Facebook Bug Caused Misreporting on Page Insights for Months

23 Feb

Facebook announced today that it has discovered a number of bugs that impacted Page Insights impression and reach reporting. While trying to speed up its iOS and Android apps, Facebook accidentally stripped out too much data about news feed posts by Pages. This caused Page Insights to be misreported, leading admins to believe their posts reached fewer people than they actually did.


Facebook is now in the process of fixing these bugs, but wants developers to know that the impact of said bugs will be different for every page. To see the results of the fixes and the impact the bugs had, Facebook recommends you check your page Insights on Monday after a weekend of bug fixing.

Facebook wrote that Ad Insights (the reports and feedback users receive after buying an ad or promotion to run on Facebook) were not affected by the same engineering bug that caused misreporting.


Here’s how it happened:

After years of complaints that the native iPhone and Android apps were slow, Facebook released quicker versions in August and December.

In order to speed them up & transmit the minimum amount of information needed to display news feed stories. Facebook mistakenly stopped sending the markers that Page Insights used to count how many people saw each Page’s posts.

As users upgraded to the faster apps, their views of Page posts in those apps stopped being counted, and Page Insights showed admins were getting fewer feed impressions for their posts than they actually were.

Meanwhile a different bug, caused desktop news feed ads to be counted twice as both organic impressions and paid impressions. Between the two bugs, most Pages were seeing misreported data in Page Insights for months.

What does that mean?

Research has proven that the majority of users use Facebook from a mobile device, and so it’d be safe to say that the majority of users clicking through to different pages we’rent being counted.

This is a big deal for those of us who have clients whom we report to with their pages progress. This not so tiny mistake affected page administrators in a major way. We’ve trusted Facebook developers and engineers to provide us with honest analytics. The amount of ad revenue that the site has forced us to spend is well into the millions, so legit analytics isn’t to much to ask, right?

How are they fixing it?

Facebook expanded its Page Insights team (who had some explaining to do) and assemble a “war room” to work intensely until the bugs were fixed. For three weeks, 10 people worked exclusively out of the war room performing audits, bug fixes, more audits, and installing new monitoring systems to ensure Facebook would instantly catch any future Insights errors.


Unfortunately, Facebook says that it won’t “be able to backfill Page Insights with historical data” as a result of the bugs mucking with its logging systems. Everything else should be working fine once the bugs are all fixed by Monday morning though.


Facebook emphasizes that the bug did not affect actual delivery of information, just the feedback that Page managers might have seen. Once the stats are corrected, Page managers could see their total reach stay the same or increase, paid reach increase, and organic reach increase or decrease.

From an optimists point of view, the reality is that were getting more reach than we thought. The new data should be a relief rather than a downer.

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