Facebook sued over free-to-play games

California woman takes social network to court over kids' ability to rack up unauthorized charges on microtransaction-driven games.


Family-friendly free-to-play games can get expensive in a hurry when children are able to purchase in-game add-ons, and one mother is taking Facebook to court over the practice. As reported by Gamasutra, a California woman has filed suit against the social network, claiming it allowed minors to make millions of dollars in unauthorized charges for Facebook Credits, which were then used to buy items in games.

Free-to-play Facebook games like Dragon Age: Legends can cost an awful lot.
Free-to-play Facebook games like Dragon Age: Legends can cost an awful lot.

Facebook lets children as young as 13 create accounts, though the terms state that those under 18 must get parental permission before buying Facebook credits. The suit alleges that goes against multiple consumer protection laws in California, as well as federal statutes.

The suit is seeking class action status and was filed on behalf of all parents and legal guardians in the US whose children made unauthorized purchases on Facebook. It further alleges that those damages add up to more than $5 million, and the woman suing put her personal loss at "several hundred dollars."

Apple is facing a similar lawsuit over free-to-play games, as the iPad maker previously allowed players to make in-app purchases without entering an account password for validation for the first 15 minutes after a game was downloaded. This led to minors racking up hundreds of dollars in charges for games like Smurfs' Village, which were downloaded for free but encourage players to spend money to speed their progress in the game.

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