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Facebook apologizes for video viewing-time error

Facebook's logo is seen through a magnifier in front of a displayed PC motherboard, in this illustration taken April 11, 2016. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

Facebook's logo is seen through a magnifier in front of a displayed PC motherboard, in this illustration taken April 11, 2016. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

Facebook apologized on Friday for what it described as a “miscalculation” in the way it reported how long, on average, videos on the site were viewed— an error that caused the metric to be exaggerated.

The error stemmed from how the company did the math on video viewing length, taking into account only people who watched a video for three seconds or more, the social media giant said. If the company had taken into account views that were less than three seconds, the average duration of video viewed would be shorter.

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“As soon as we discovered the discrepancy, we fixed it,” David Fischer, the company’s vice president for business and marketing partnerships, wrote on Facebook on Friday. “We informed our partners and made sure to put a notice in the product itself so that anyone who went into their dashboard could understand our error.”

Fischer said that they first noticed the mistake “about a month ago.”

Metrics like the average amount of time a video is watched matter to advertisers. The Wall Street Journal reported that average video watching time had been overestimated by “between 60% and 80%.” That information came from a letter that Publicis Media, an ad-buying agency, sent out in August, which the Wall Street Journal viewed.

“We sincerely apologize for the issues this has created for our clients,” Fischer added, in the Facebook post.