Facebook Tricked Kids Into Spending Parents' Money on Games, Reports Reveal

Luckily, the social network has since updated its policies and guidelines.
ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
Jan 2019
toddler staring at tablet
Photo: Albert Mollon / Getty Images

Facebook was pulling one over (you and) your kid’s head. The social network tricked kids into spending money on games like Angry Birds, PetVille and Ninja Saga without needing parents’ permission, USA Today reports.

The class-action lawsuit happened a few years ago, but the documents have just been released to the public. The reports reveal information spanning from 2010 to 2014.

Making matters worse, when Facebook came up with an internal solution that could address the issue, it chose “not try to block children from unwittingly spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on its games" because it would affect revenues, Reveal claims.

The good news—Facebook has since updated this policy.

The company told USA Today it “works with parents and experts to offer tools for families navigating Facebook and the web. As part of that work, we routinely examine our own practices, and in 2016 agreed to update our terms and provide dedicated resources for refund requests related to purchases made by minors on Facebook.”

The update includes a Parents Portal to help parents maintian children’s online activity, and clearer guidelines on how charge disputes are handled.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen online ads or information being used to dupe kids into making purchases. A 2018 study found 95 percent of kids’ apps contain at least one type of advertising, and, more often than not, they’re not ethical.

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