Facebook Knowingly Let Minors Spend Parents' Money Without Consent

Facebook used games to make millions off children in 'friendly fraud'

Facebook used games to make millions off children in 'friendly fraud'

Facebook has been accused of not caring if game companies diddled children and their parents out of millions of dollars with in-game purchases, following the unsealing of U.S. court documents. They were part of a lawsuit centered on allegations that Facebook knowingly gouged teenagers by permitting them to spend hundreds of dollars buying additional features on games such as "Angry Birds" and "Barn Buddy". However, Facebook didn't adopt them for fear of undercutting revenue, the records say. An internal study showed that children spent $3.6 million (£2.75 million) on Facebook browser games in just four months between October 2010 and January 2011.

Facebook acknowledged that, after being contacted by the CIR in 2018, it voluntarily unsealed documents related to a 2012 case about its refund policies "for in-app purchases that parents believe were made in error by their minor children". Despite its recognition of the problem, internal discussions show that Facebook decided it would be best to fight refund requests and allow the problem to persist.

Campaigning US journalism outfit Reveal News secured a number of exhibits from an ongoing class-action lawsuit against Facebook in which the startling revelations came to light. A federal judge ordered the documents, which are from 2010 to 2014, to be unsealed after a request from the publication.

Facebook is under fire for allegedly facilitating over-spending by minors in free-to-play games on Facebook, and internal documents now show that the company chose not to implement security measures that would have prevented kids from unknowingly pouring their parents' money into games.




In one such case, two employees discuss charges amounting to $US6545 ($9221), and acknowledge that the child claims to be 15 years old but looks younger. It said that "in almost all cases, the parent. didn't think the child would be allowed to buy anything without their password or authorization first".

She ran a test to see if the entering the cards first six-digits would reduce these unwanted charges and the results were encouraging. Another employee mentioned that only 50 percent of Facebook users were receiving email receipts.

Facebook is once again in the news, and not in a good way, according to a report citing court documents. "Facebook works with parents and experts to offer tools for families navigating Facebook", a spokesperson said. In 2016, this lead to an update to the social network's terms and conditions that would provide "dedicated resources for refund requests relation to purchases made by minors on Facebook".

Facebook reportedly allowed developers to obscure real-money transactions, while profiting millions from minors who made purchases without permission from their parents.

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