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Updated at 10:25 am ET
In 2011, Glynnis Bohannon gave her 12-year-old son permission to charge $ 20 on his credit card to play a Facebook game called Ninja Saga. None of them saw any signs indicating that the credit card information had been stored and accumulating fees when his son was playing and making extra purchases in the game. Bohannon said his son n & # 39; s He had not realized that it would cost nearly $ 1,000.
Bohannon was the leading plaintiff in a 2012 class action suit that Facebook had settled in 2016. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of parents whose underage children had made unknowing purchases of their parents' credit cards.
On Thursday, more than a dozen groups of child rights advocates and the right to privacy asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Facebook had been delivered. unlawful, unfair or deceptive practices by encouraging children to spend money on shopping without gambling, parental consent.
"The Facebook child scam is not only unethical and reprehensible, but also violates consumer protection laws," said Josh Golin, executive director of the campaign. for a childhood without advertising. "We have seen time and time again that Facebook is following its own rules, regardless of the cost to children, families, and society, and we urge the FTC to hold Facebook accountable."
The FTC's investigation request comes after a court had agreed, by the Center For Investigation Report, to decipher a 2012 class action suit that Facebook had settled in 2016. The lawsuit was brought in the name of Bohannon and other relatives whose minor children were ignored. makes purchases with their parents' credit cards.
In another document, quoted in a rights group press release, Facebook employees described a "minor whale" as a "whale", a term used by casinos to refer to someone who spends a lot of money.
Parents also said that Facebook made it difficult to know how to report what happened and often did not pay parents.
Among the revelations of unsealed documents, there is the fact that Facebook employees have devised ways to prevent children from accidentally piling up charges on their parents' credit cards. But employees were told it would reduce Facebook's revenue. According to a document, Facebook told developers not to escape what it calls a "friendly fraud".
Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, said that the unsealed documents showed "the attitude of the company and the culture behind these deceptive decisions and practices." So that says a lot and tells us that You have to crack down on that. "
Common Sense Media, the campaign for a child without advertising and the Center for Digital Democracy are among the groups that ask the FTC to investigate Facebook.
In a statement to NPR on Thursday, a Facebook spokesman said:
"We want users to enjoy safe and enjoyable gaming experiences on Facebook, which is why the provision of resources to request the reimbursement of unauthorized purchases made in gaming is an important part of the game." platform.We have mechanisms to prevent fraud at the time of purchase.people the opportunity to challenge purchases and request refunds.
"As part of our long tradition of working with parents and experts to provide tools for families browsing on Facebook and the Web, Facebook has also put in place protection mechanisms for minors' purchases. updated our Terms and Conditions and now offer dedicated redemption resources for Facebook minors' purchases, including special training for our reviewers. "
In the 2016 settlement, Facebook has agreed to make some changes to its practices. For example, he had to inform application developers that any purchase made by a minor could be canceled.
But Steyer of Common Sense Media says the settlement is not enough. "At least, it brought to light some of the unfair and deceptive practices and privacy violations, but it did not really protect all the children, families and consumers in this country, which is the job of the FTC. . "
Facebook is not the only technology company to adopt this type of behavior. Apple, Google and Amazon have been accused of similar behavior. Settlement agreements with the FTC required these companies to change their billing practices to ensure parents' express consent for in-app purchases. The regulations also required tens of millions of refunds.