Facebook proves, yet again, that it’s terrible at math
Facebook has announced yet another measurement error, the fourth time the company has come forward to admit a discrepancy in its calculations since September.
This time the error involved undercounting traffic from publishers who used Instant Articles, the platform where media outlets post content directly to the social network. Facebook said a software update caused mobile traffic from iPhone users to be undercounted from Sept. 20 to Nov. 30.
Some publishers traffic may have been undercounted by 10 to 20 percent, according a publisher speaking to the Wall Street Journal.
The latest mistake is quite damning given the amount of effort Facebook has put into luring publishers into using the platform. Instant Articles load in milliseconds while similar articles posted from third-party websites can take 3.66 seconds, Facebook reported.
Interestingly, it also means that Facebook’s strategy to work with third-party verifiers isn’t perfect since the company’s own code can lead to errors. ComScore did, however, notify the company of the problem.
Some publishers are somewhat forgiving. Dao Nguyen, publisher at BuzzFeed, told the Journal that Instant Articles drive 15 percent of traffic to BuzzFeed.com and that the majority of its audience comes from YouTube and Snapchat.
Meanwhile, Facebook is seeking to hire an “experienced news executive” to “be a public-facing voice of Facebook and its role in the news ecosystem.”