Lawsuit: Facebook knowingly let minors spend parents’ money without consent

Newly released documents show that social media giant Facebook was aware that children were spending large amounts of money on the site's games without their parents' consent.

The documents released Thursday night are part of a 2012 lawsuit against the company, which alleges that Facebook knew kids were making the purchases and made it difficult for parents to get their money back, CBS News reported.

One parent allowed her 12-year-old son to use her credit card to play Ninja Saga on the site with an initial fee of $19.95. However, the woman soon saw charges totaling almost $1,000. Glynnis Bohannan told CBS News that her son said he wasn't using her credit card. However, Facebook had stored the credit card information without Bhannan's son's knowledge and had charged it as he played the game.  

RELATED: A look at the companies Facebook confirmed it shared data with:

9 PHOTOS
Companies Facebook confirms it shared data with
See Gallery
Companies Facebook confirms it shared data with

Apple

(REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader)

Samsung

(REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)

Amazon

(REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa)

Blackberry

(REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

Microsoft

(REUTERS/ Mike Blake)

Huawei  -- Chinese company is the world's third-largest smartphone maker

(REUTERS/Yves Herman)

Lenovo

(REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/File Photo)

OPPO -- Chinese smartphone maker

(REUTERS/Edgar Su)

TCL Corp. -- China's largest television and cellphone producer

(REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV CC/JJ)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

 

According to Bohannan, her son was refilling coins during the game, but Facebook did not display that it cost $19.95 every time.

According to the documents, this was a common practice across the site, known as "friendly fraud." Bohannan filed a lawsuit after she could not reach Facebook for a refund. Eventually, her lawsuit turned into a class action lawsuit, CBS reported.

Internal documents show Facebook employees discussing friendly fraud, referred to as FF-minor. They were hesitant to stop the practice because it would hurt the company's revenue. Between 2008 and 2014, kids under 18 years old spent more than $34 million in purchases.

In one document, an employee at Facebook discussed how the company could use the "data to choose apps that would be good recipients for an automatic underage inflow … apps that come to mind: PetVille, Happy Aquarium, Wild Ones, Barn Buddy and any Ninja game." The employee also asked if the company should just "start refunding for blatant FF-minor."

According to CBS, Facebook settled the lawsuit in 2016, saying the company was reviewing its practices and "agreed to update our ter

Copyright 2019 U.S. News & World Report

Read Full Story