By: +David Herron; Date: August 19, 2018
The lawsuit was filed by a company which uses Facebook advertising. Many of us use Facebook advertising, because supposedly Facebook is the largest market of folks to whom advertising can be shown.
It is in Facebook's advertising business where Facebook sells the data it collects from us all. Advertisers have an amazing array of demographic targeting tools with which to target a selected audience. Have you liked any pages? Joined any groups? Facebook converts those signals and others into whether one is interested in certain topics. The audience can also be sliced by location, diced by age, tossed by sex, pureed by language, and so on.
What the lawsuit alleges is -- say an advertiser selects "18-54 year olds" in a given area, like Kansas City, with no other demographic targeting. It's fairly easy to learn how many such people in total live in the Kansas City. Facebook will show Potential Reach figures 200% higher than the actual population.
In many other ways, Facebook is showing inflated numbers.
As a sometimes user of Facebook advertising this does not in the slightest bit surprise me. Speaking for myself, I do not expect that number to be accurate, but instead to be somewhere in the right ballpark. I suppose one can characterize this lawsuit as saying the number is not even in the same county, so it's way outside the right ballpark.