THE BUZZ: A mother in California has filed complaints against Facebook for allowing children to purchase Facebook Credits for use in games the social media site hosts.
EGM’s TAKE: So, it’s really easy to want to come to a snap judgement on this one—but the reality of the situation is a little more complex.
The mother behind the suit is Glynnis Bohannon, who is demanding a refund for the Facebook Credit purchases made by her son, as well as a refund for “all parents and legal guardians in the United States whose minor children made unauthorized purchases of Facebook Credits from the minor child’s Facebook account.”
Legally, children 13 years old and up are allowed to create Facebook accounts, but the question of their ability to make purchases via the website become a bit cloudier. The site itself states that members under 18 must ask for a parent’s permission before purchasing Facebook Credits—but the site does not seem to actually stop them from doing so.
The lawsuit claims that the ability for minors to purchase Facebook Credits goes against California’s consumer protection laws, and that children cannot enter into the assumed contract that comes from making such purchases.
It’s a situation where it’s easy to see things from both sides. When I was a teenager, if I had $5 in my pocket, I could go out and spend it on something I wanted without much concern for legality or protections or anything like that. When that $5 is instead “invisible money” that could be spent via a bank account or credit card with no filter or physical interaction in place, it can be easy to understand how one finds themselves in a situation where protections need to be in place from services that have no concern over who they’re taking money from.
It’ll be interesting to see how the suit progresses, and if Facebook would indeed be forced to reimburse parents for potentially millions of dollars.