Facebook advertisers asked a California federal judge Friday to certify their proposed class claims that the company bolsters its advertising revenue by inflating the potential estimated reach of ads on the platform.
The case is ripe for class treatment because it alleges classwide fraud perpetrated by Facebook with its misleading data for how many people could see any given advertisement, according to the redacted motion filed by plaintiffs DZ Reserve and Cain Maxwell.
The suit focuses on Facebook's so-called potential reach metric, which supposedly tells advertisers how many people are in an ad set's target audience, according to the motion. This is shown to advertisers on Facebook's Ads Manager, the motion states, but that data is inflated and misleading.
Advertisers wouldn't have paid Facebook for ad space had they known the data was inflated, the plaintiffs said.
The advertisers want to represent a class of all U.S. residents who, from Aug. 15, 2014, to the present, paid for the placement of at least one advertisement on Facebook's platforms, including Instagram, which was purchased through the company's Ads Manager or Power Editor.
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In their motion Friday, the advertisers said their allegations raise common questions about whether Facebook inflated the potential reach of ads, whether its use of the inflated data was deceptive or unfair under California law, and whether Facebook knew the data was inflated, among other questions.
The advertisers' attorney, Geoffrey Graber of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, was already appointed interim lead class counsel in December 2018 and the firm should be appointed class counsel now, the motion said.
"This is the kind of case for which the class action procedure was created," the advertisers said. "Any class member's individual recovery would be dwarfed by the cost of proving the predominating issues in this litigation."
"Here, the median class member advertiser has incurred no more than $32 in damages. No rational person would challenge the most powerful social media company in the world to recover $32 in damages," the advertisers added. "If class treatment is denied, the wrongdoing outlined above 'will go unpunished,' leaving Facebook free to continue to defraud its customers with impunity."
The advertisers and proposed class are represented by Andrew N. Friedman, Geoffrey Graber, Julia Horwitz, Karina G. Puttieva and Eric Kafka of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, and Charles Reichmann.
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