Social media giant Facebook is facing a new class-action lawsuit that involves minors purchasing Facebook credits without parental consent.
Facebook Credits are the currency on Facebook’s platform. People can exchange real money for a number of Facebook Credits and use them to buy virtual goods within games hosted on Facebook. For example, you can purchase chips to use in a poker game, or a virtual tractor for Zynga’s Farmville. Facebook then takes a 30 percent cut of all transactions.
The class-action suit was filed by Arizona-resident Glynnis Bohannon, who is seeking a refund after her young son purchased Facebook Credits. The suit is questioning Facebook’s terms of service requirement that its users not provide any false personal information. If some, or all, of a person’s information is false, the court could rule that the Facebook Credit transactions are void, and are likely subject to a full refund.
The suit also questions the vagueness behind Facebook’s terms for minors who use Facebook Credits. Currently those terms state: “If you are under the age of 18, you may make payments only with the involvement of a parent or guardian. You should review these Payments Terms with a parent or guardian to make sure that you both understand them.”
With this kind of stipulation, it could be very easy to convince a judge that Facebook isn’t doing enough to verify a user’s personal account information and to provide a system of checks and balances to ensure that children under the age of 18 have parental consent. And as PaidContent points out, U.S. law allows minors to back out of financial agreements in some cases.
Facebook has requested to move the class-action lawsuit to a federal court (PDF). We’re reaching out to the company for a statement and will update the post with any new info.
Photo via Arvind Balaraman / Shutterstock
VB's research team is studying web-personalization... Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.