Facebook didn’t care if your kids ran up gigantic credit card bills

Even Angry Birds’ makers asked why a lot of refunds were being made

Facebook has heard new accusations – a social network is suspected of using a scheme that helps to lure children money through in-game payments.

A certain Mrs. Glinnis Boennon filed a lawsuit against the company. It all started with the fact that in 2011, Boennon’s son used his mother’s card to buy Facebook Credits (the local currency of the social networking site Facebook).

Use means 12-year-old teenager wanted to shop in the game Ninja Saga. Initially planning to spend only $ 20, later Boennon discovered that almost $ 1000 was written off the card.

It turned out that the plaintiff’s son simply did not know that Facebook Credits currency was worth real money. After reviewing the lawsuit, Facebook was forced to pay damages to outraged parents. However, the consequences of this incident still make themselves felt.

As recently as last Thursday, defenders of the rights of minors asked the US Federal Trade Commission to conduct an investigation into Facebook. In the course of this investigation, human rights advocates believe that it is necessary to find out whether the social network uses any illegal, dishonest or deceptive ways to incline children to in-game purchases.

In the investigation, a document was compiled, the volume of which was 135 pages. It turned out that the suspicions of children’s rights defenders turned out to be not unreasonable – Facebook really used dubious methods.

One of these methods is described as “friendly fraud” (friendly fraud, FF) – Facebook’s own term for children who spend money on games without the knowledge of their parents.

Facebook didn't care if your kids ran up gigantic credit card bills
Asian Chinese little boy using laptop buying online with credit card in the living room at home.
Facebook inspired game developers that FF is a good practice, especially when it comes to increasing revenues.

The document also described situations in which the children themselves did not suspect that they were spending real money in the game. And Facebook, according to investigators from the Center for Investigative Journalism, knew about it.

“Their own documents show that underage users were not even aware that their parents’ payment cards were linked to accounts. Thus, they spent their parents’ real money in the game, ”the report says.

The full report can be found here:

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Daniel Zimmermann

Daniel Zimmermann has been writing on security and malware subjects for many years and has been working in the security industry for over 10 years. Daniel was educated at the Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany and currently lives in New York.

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