‘Sue Facebook for lying? You might as well sue fish for swimming’ – says Bob Hoffman

In 2017, the lemmings in news media rose up as one to declare their rebirth strategy, a pivot to video – which meant firing journalists and ‘hiring kids with video cameras’ – but they can’t now blame Facebook because they didn’t know ‘their own freaking business’, writes Bob Hoffman

You know those people who say: “I hate to say I told you so.” I’m not one of them.

If I may quote a dumbass blogger: “Facebook metrics have a long illustrious history of being laughable bullshit. Anyone who believes their numbers is an idiot.”

Well, the idiots are on the warpath. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, a lawsuit filed by some advertisers claims that Facebook lied about its video metrics.

Sue Facebook for lying? You might as well sue fish for swimming.

According to the journal: “Facebook told some advertisers that it likely overestimated average time spent watching videos by 60% to 80%. The plaintiffs alleged that the error was much larger and that the average viewership metrics had been inflated by some 150% to 900%.”

The lawsuit also alleges that Facebook knew its numbers were crooked for over a year before it disclosed them.

So 85 newsletters ago, when Facebook’s bogus metrics started to become headlines, I wrote: “I predict Facebook will not just continue to stonewall but will actually make it harder for advertisers to get at their real numbers.

Media bosses should blame themselves too, says Hoffman

“Why? Because they’re hiding stuff and they will fight to the death rather than give it up. Remember, you read it here first.”

Two things you can rely on with Facebook:

  1. They never reveal unpleasant truths unless forced to.
  2. When they are caught, their first statement will never be accurate and another shoe will always drop

While some clowns were suing Facebook, other clowns were blaming Facebook.

Here’s the story. In 2017, the lemmings in news media management rose up as one to declare their rebirth strategy: ‘Pivot to video.’

It was a clarion call that echoed throughout the land. What did it mean? It meant replacing online print/text reporting with short video clips.

In practical terms it meant firing journalists and hiring kids with video cameras. It was a disaster.

It wasn’t just a disaster for the media, it was also a disaster for hundreds of trained reporters and editors who lost their jobs.

Now a report out of Harvard says that media big shots who implemented the pivot to video nonsense are blaming Facebook’s phony video metrics for leading them into temptation – as if they don’t have a responsibility to know their own freaking business.

Once again, the pivot to video demonstrates that there is no bigger sucker than a gullible marketer convinced he’s missing a trend.

Before you go calling me a Facebook hater, I have the full faith and credit of The New York Times on my side.

In an editorial piece this week entitled “Hey, Facebook, Do Your Own Work”, the times lamented the fact that it seems to be the news media’s job to ferret out all the crap that’s polluting Facebook and other social media platforms

The times said that Facebook and its pals in the black hole of social media “have all the tools at their disposal and a profound responsibility to find exactly what journalists find – and yet, clearly, they don’t.

“And unlike journalists, (they) have the power to change the very incentives that keep producing these troubling online phenomena. The reliance on journalists’ time is particularly paradoxical given the damage that the tech companies are doing to the media industry.”


One last Facebook missile. If there’s one thing this newsletter can’t abide it’s aristocratic corporate jerk-offs who are ‘on a journey’. You’re not on a journey unless you have holes in your socks and you smell like a goat, okay?

This week, Facebook hired the United Kingdom’s former deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, to be its lobbyist-in-chief. Clegg had this to say: “The company is on a journey which brings new responsibilities. I hope I will be able to play a role in helping to navigate that journey.”

Wow, two ‘journeys’ in one statement. Perfect Facebook fecal matter. This guy’s gonna be fun.

Dude, just a bit of advice. Don’t kid yourself. You ain’t navigating no journey. You’re making millions to wash dirty laundry.

Bob Hoffman has been the CEO of two independent agencies and is the author of the Ad Contrarian blog, where this post first appeared


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella Asia newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing