Mum Sues Facebook After Kid Racks Up In-Game Purchases

Out in California, a woman is suing Facebook because her teenage son bought the social network's virtual currency to spend in video games, and that transaction should be illegal under the state's consumer protection laws.

Glynnis Bohannon, reports Gamasutra, is suing to have the purchases refunded to her, and for all other purchases of this type to be refunded to other parents, up to $US5 million. No other damages or amounts were mentioned. So while this $US5 million is not entirely her claim, it sounds like the case would have the potential to become a class action.

Facebook allows children as young as 13 to create pages but requires them to get parental approval first before making any purchases through the site. Bohannon's complaint says that is not enough under California state law.

Gamasutra has more details and a rather robust discussion about everyone's responsibility in this. I recommend reading both as, inevitably, this is going to devolve to another seminar on parenting.

New Facebook lawsuit highlights trouble with kids and virtual currency [Gamasutra]


Comments

    lady needs not to give her children the credit card for a start.stop looking r elsewhere for blame when you need to have that dialog with your kid

      There in lay the questions:

      1. Did she, or did the kid steal it? (either way, not FB's fault)
      2. Why is a 13 year old able to purchase via credit card on a fb account? (Definitely FB's fault)
      3. What are the exact safeguards to stop this? What are the processes set up to stop this sort of thing? (Yes, this sort of thing *is* up to FB to set up believe it or not. It's also upto the mum to put her credit card away safely, but 13 year olds are devious shits...)

        2. How can Facebook even know whether the person entering the credit card information is of legal age? If it can't know for sure, why should it be their fault?
        3. Age gates? (honesty system i.e yes I am 18 years old let me proceed) . Also it's completely rational for Facebook to assume whoever is entering credit card details is of legal age because you must be of legal age to acquire one. After all credit cards are used as proof of age in some businesses.

          We're talking about Facebook here. They probably already know the kid's birthday and who his parents are.

          If they really wanted to, they could probably make it impossible for a young kid to top up their wallet except through their parent's account.

            Or you know, parenting.

    To hell with Faceboock, who cares about something that is set up by CIA and collects all your information.
    The dumb thing is sheeple are only too willing to divulge their private information.

      Nothing private about the info on my Facebook, hell there's more about me on file with Medicare or on the electoral roll than what Facebook has.. They have my name & my email address (which has no connection to my real name anyway) oh noes, public information!!!

    People still use Facebook? I left it months ago, and many of my friends followed. Life has never been better. It is absolutely sickening the way people live their lives through the thing instead of the real world.

      Maybe you need to appreciate that there's a middle ground. I don't use it most days, but I still pop in for collaboration and accepting/declining event invitations. Whether we like it or not, Facebook is now THE portal for notifications between people. I can't remember the last time someone called me for something social.

        That's pretty much all I use it for too, it's a useful tool for private messaging and invites.

      Right. Because you were some weirdo that started to live your life through Facebook and had to leave it for said mental health reasons, we're all just like you. Weirdo.

        Nope, I only made a handful of posts a year and only had a display picture. nothing else on the profile. YOU are the weirdo for following like a mindless sheep and contributing to the downfall of society by continuing to maintain a profile. Facebook caters to the narcissists in society and people who have lost basic communication skills and are incapable of talking on the phone/email or shock horror.. in person! I have no trouble being invited to events and staying in touch, yet some people cannot go a day without logging into Facebook and updating their hundreds of 'friends' about their mundane, boring little lives. Get out there and experience the world, adopt meaningful forms of communication and maintain REAL friendships - you will be much better off for it. Facebook is disgusting and I eagerly await the day it is banned or something else takes over. I am in my 30's and my closest friends are not on the network any longer, that is what I call a true friend, someone who you can call upon and have a good time with - not someone who brags about their life on the internet every day and is living in cyber space.

          Are you serious? I cannot believe the misguided filth that just spewed out of your mouth. You obviously don't get out much if you think everyone is a "mindless sheep" who have no "communication skills" and are "incapable of talking on the phone/email". Facebook is a means through which people communicate, nothing else. I don't see how it's any worse than phone or email or how it's hampering peoples communication skills. If anything, I've seen the benefits of social networking on some people. People who are usually too shy and have no communication skills are able to use facebook to improve their social skills - I'm not saying that's always the case, but I've personally seen no evidence to show that it actually worsens someones social skills. And so what if people like to update people about their lives... you seem to think they spend hours upon hours everyday, carefully deciding on each word that they can use to articulate how nice the breakfast they just had was. The good thing about facebook is it's as simple and easy to use as it is mundane. People don't live their lives in "cyber space" they simply use it to communicate with the people around them. I'm not saying that no one abuses facebook to an extent – I think we've all seen our fair share of people who act atrocious on facebook, sharing every single drama on the internet. But to say that EVERYONE on facebook is a “mindless sheep” is just downright wrong. We get it. The people you know are douchebags. You like to be a hipster, fighting against the sheeple who are responsible for the downfall of society. Whatever, we don't give a shit. Just don't waste our time spreading your bigoted views around. Facebook is what you choose to make it.

          You are using an internet messaging system to complain about people who use an internet messagng system...

          "basic communication skills and are incapable of talking on the phone/email "

          HAHAHAHAHAHA

          I hate you.

          You are amazement. I <3 John

    So many people bashing the parent in this stuff where this article is online, the simple fact is, that children have tiny little heads with tiny little brains, and depending upon their age, their impulse control isn't exactly tops. More than that, the video games that are marketed to children through facebook, are designed to earn money through this lack of impulse control, their micro transactions for disposable, DISPOSABLE, in game goods is so fucking screwy that anyone with the ability to control their impulses wouldn't play the game because it's a massive scam. I'm not going to be blaming parents for their children buying stuff online, when the games that are online and marketed to children are purely predatory. Facebook probably should consider it a duty to create an easy parental control system, say a child requests to buy an in game item, and the child can only get that in game item after a request to allow has been sent to the parents facebook page for them to log in and approve, that would make the parents aware of the predatory shit that could cost them hundreds or thousands of dollars because their child's weak impulse control is being exploited, or facebook shouldn't allow games where micro transactions are for purely disposable in game items that only allow progress for a short time.

    I'd like to use team fortress as a good example of a game with micro-transactions that isn't predatory or exploitative of player's impulses, but crates. Fucking. Crates.

      Rubbish. A normal 13 year old understands consequences. Should I steal from my mum, or should I ask her first? Clearly if the child can't make that assessment, then it's the parent's fault.

      I wish I had thought of crates before Valve!

    great solution! Pitt it would eat into face book a revenues and therefore they won't do it

      I wasn't talking 13 years old foo. By about 12 their brains have developed enough for impulse control, before that, if there is something they want, they'll have it

    A classic while loop sums this situation:
    While (Parenting_Fails) { never_admit_responsibility = true }

      Pretty much this. Take responsibility for your kids instead of trying to blame someone else for your shitty parenting.

    I got called 'edgy' when I told someone I didn't use facebook.

    Cool, I'm edgy.

      I don't use Facebook either. I actively refuse to even when my friends and family insist I join. Mind you I'm not on Google+, or Twitter, or anything else of that nature apart from LinkedIn which is because it's my professional profile and basically an online resume.

      I'll probably never join facebook. Maybe, MAYBE google+ somewhere down the line, but never facebook. It actually pisses me off that my phone has a facebook app I can't uninstall (not without rooting the phone anyway).

      Brothers in arms, Robbo. Brothers in arms. We can be edgy together.

      Hey, guess I am edgy too! I refuse to join Facebook and never will, I do not agree with its business model and pervasion in society. Linkedin is as far as I go with social networks. Twitter does have some value though, because you can just read updates without feeling a need to post at all and not being bombarded with useless information, still I am better off without it. Just another thing we do not need in our lives, yet some people become so entrenched in it and cant tear themselves away, which is pretty pathetic.

    It's a cut and dry case of bad parenting. Either the kid has taken a credit card or the parent has given them one. Case closed

    I think Facebook should be more responsible when it comes to this sort of stuff. Honestly, I'm not an internet whiz, or computer whiz by any means but my ideal situation is that children's Facebook accounts should be linked to their parents' to give them 100% control over what their kids can and cannot do online. Realistically, 13 is TOO YOUNG to have free rein over what you do online. Children's brains are certainly not developed enough to understand consequences at the age of 13, much less the value of a dollar. Facebook has a culture of "give, give, give, share, share, share" so when kids are entrenched in an environment where everything is free, it's only natural that they're going to unknowingly rack up debt on their parent's credit cards when clicking on a box all of a sudden costs real money.
    Also, paedophiles, blah blah blah, predators, etc. It's a big, wide, anonymous world out there, and you simply can't be too careful.

      Uhh.. credit card details don't just randomly appear on a page. Someone would've had to enter them at some point in time. If the kid stole the details from the parent, it's not FB's fault. If the parent put the details in for the kid and failed to monitor purchases adequately, it's not FB's fault. In BOTH instances, the parent is responsible for what happened. Putting the blame on FB because you're a shitty parent is bullshit.

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