Facebook allowed children to spend their parents' money without permission

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers his speech during the Viva Tech trade fair in Paris

In 2016, Facebook settled a class-action lawsuit brought by parents of children who were tricked into unwittingly making purchases with real money while playing free video games hosted on the social media platform.

In an internal analysis, Facebook found that from October 2010 to January 2011 children spent $3.6 million on games, according to the report.

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".

Facebook's policy was apparently to encourage game developers to allow such spending in order to increase revenues - a practice referred to internally as "friendly fraud".

The judge ordered Facebook to release internal emails, messages, and employees' depositions that were previously sealed as a result of legal action by Reveal from the Center For Investigative Reporting. One document shows the social networking company knew the average age of Angry Birds players was just five years old. The documents also show that Facebook typically refused refund requests when it received them from cardholders, according to the report.

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After a series of scandals, Facebook is under fire again over newly released documents that show an apparent pattern of exploiting minors for their parents' money.

Instances of children spending parents' money on games without their permission was labeled "friendly fraud" or "FF" in Facebook's internal correspondence. A charge-back rate of 1% is considered "high" by Visa and Mastercard, and the credit card companies will put any business with a 1% charge-back rate on probation programs. "If you are not logged into Facebook and click on 'View Receipt Online, ' it directs you to a general page that doesn't have a clear path to dispute with us", the document reads.

The case, Bohannan and others v Facebook Inc, continues. Facebook employees knew this.

"We have now released additional documents as instructed by the court". They said that building in a way to prevent the issue would harm revenue, but Facebook could give Rovio special attention for monitoring transactions. She also said it would "make sense to start refunding for blatant FF-minor". The company eventually settled the case with the family.

"We were contacted by the Center for Investigative Reporting previous year, and we voluntarily unsealed documents related to a 2012 case about our refund policies for in-app purchases that parents believe were made in error by their minor children". With that settlement, Facebook agreed "to dedicate an internal queue to refund requests for in-app purchases made by US minors".

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