Facebook Faces Underage Gamer Lawsuit

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jdogtwodolla:
Not that I'm siding with anyone here, but can't kids buy redeem cards for Facebook games? Why does it have to be credit cards, granted that number is still probably very high.

If the kid is buying a prepaid card with their own money, then it's not really an issue. Otherwise, it's still the parents' fault.

jdogtwodolla:
Not that I'm siding with anyone here, but can't kids buy redeem cards for Facebook games? Why does it have to be credit cards, granted that number is still probably very high.

Yes they can, but that also means they're using money to buy said cards...and whom are they getting the money from that makes it a big deal in the first place?

Actually I blame the credit card companies. I dealt with one family member stealing another members credit card info(no children involved). It is not hard to go into the purse or wallet and obtain the card info. There needs to be some secret code or password so things like this don't happen. It is sad this day and age not to have these extra security features.

I'm 18 and never had a credit card. The only time I've used one online was to pay for Minecraft with my mother's card which I had to transfer the money into first. I still see my friend go out and but $50 worth of lollies and chocolate and put it on her credit card and say "Mummy will pay it off". Are kids not being taught how to manage money properly anymore?

I do agree that Facebook should have a bit more security in its transactions though.

And this is why I don't want to have kids...

Nowadays, it's so freaking impossible. The expectations man... "But Dad ALL MY OTHER FRIENDS have access to CREDIT CARDS!"

Another example of a parent who can't raise a child properly and now wants money for their own mishap.

Samantha Burt:
If the kid is buying a prepaid card with their own money, then it's not really an issue. Otherwise, it's still the parents' fault.

Mr.Pandah:
Yes they can, but that also means they're using money to buy said cards...and whom are they getting the money from that makes it a big deal in the first place?

Mixed Signals?

If the child is taking money or purchasing without parental consent then I can see it as an issue for the parents. The article didn't really elude to that possibility though, Just credit cards. Maybe I'm missing how this process works.

-.-

ya know, this is hardly surprising, the idiot parent deserve the credit card bill they get for not keeping an eye on they're kids.

...Can I stay completely neutral on this and just say everything and everyone involved were completely and utterly...stupid?

I fucking hate facebook. I fucking hate kids. And I really fucking hate what pass as "parents" these days.

There is a very simple solution to this: DON'T GIVE AN IRRESPONSIBLE KID A CREDIT CARD.

If you really want to let them buy some things online, create a checking account, put a little money in it, and give them the debit card. Tell them it's their money and to be responsible with it. Teach them that money is a finite resource.

Wait, never mind, that's too much work. Much easier to just let them put you thousands of dollars in debt.

jdogtwodolla:

Samantha Burt:
If the kid is buying a prepaid card with their own money, then it's not really an issue. Otherwise, it's still the parents' fault.

Mr.Pandah:
Yes they can, but that also means they're using money to buy said cards...and whom are they getting the money from that makes it a big deal in the first place?

Mixed Signals?

If the child is taking money or purchasing without parental consent then I can see it as an issue for the parents. The article didn't really elude to that possibility though, Just credit cards. Maybe I'm missing how this process works.

How is any of this mixed signals?

The article is entirely about the fact that kids can just purchase points without true parental consent and that it is too easy for them to do so. Regardless of where they get these "credits" from is besides the point. And yes the article did elude to there being some purchases without parental consent...or else there wouldn't be much of a case, now would there?

Mr.Pandah:

The article is entirely about the fact that kids can just purchase points without true parental consent and that it is too easy for them to do so. Regardless of where they get these "credits" from is besides the point. And yes the article did elude to there being some purchases without parental consent...or else there wouldn't be much of a case, now would there?

No no no, what I was saying is that The wording excluded the Redeem Cards and Only talked about the Credit based payment. I know It's all without parental consent and that that is the real issue. Maybe I just let that bug me too much.

Also the signals thing was about the two points counteracting each other, She saying the redeem points aren't much of an issue in this situation. You saying they are, especially not without consent.

jdogtwodolla:

Mr.Pandah:

The article is entirely about the fact that kids can just purchase points without true parental consent and that it is too easy for them to do so. Regardless of where they get these "credits" from is besides the point. And yes the article did elude to there being some purchases without parental consent...or else there wouldn't be much of a case, now would there?

No no no, what I was saying is that The wording excluded the Redeem Cards and Only talked about the Credit based payment. I know It's all without parental consent and that that is the real issue. Maybe I just let that bug me too much.

Also the signals thing was about the two points counteracting each other, She saying the redeem points aren't much of an issue in this situation. You saying they are, especially not without consent.

Ah okay. I gotcha now. Yay misunderstanding!

Wait, so you're saying If I have a child, I actually have to raise it too?

Baldr:
Actually I blame the credit card companies. I dealt with one family member stealing another members credit card info(no children involved). It is not hard to go into the purse or wallet and obtain the card info. There needs to be some secret code or password so things like this don't happen. It is sad this day and age not to have these extra security features.

With my bank I have to verify purchases through my online bank account. When I click confirm a page from my bank's site comes up asking me to enter three random characters from my password.

UnderGlass:

Andy Chalk:
Bohannon filed the action on behalf of herself, her minor son and "all others similarly situated," and is seeking to represent "all parents and legal guardians whose minor children allegedly made unauthorized purchases of Facebook credits from the minor's account." The suit alleges a belief that there are "thousands of members of the Class" and while it doesn't demand a specific dollar figure in damages or restitution, Bohannon's personal damages are pegged at "several hundred dollars." The suit also notes that in 2011 alone, Facebook users between the ages of 13 and 17 purchased more than $5 million worth of credits.

I'm not sure if this is a misquote or if I'm just reading it wrong but it sounds like she's upset that minors are making purchases with their own accounts. If it's against the law in CA then fine, I guess, maybe her 'damages' were to get her son out of the hole. Still, young adults wasting their own money on crap is hardly earth-shattering stuff.

The amount of times i have bought crap with in my bank account is ridiculous. Transformers Figures, Acorns on Ice Age Village for the ipod (only 30 at a time for 1.49, but still) and not to mention the amount of crap i eat day in and day out, admittedly i am 20, so i can do what i want, but if you trust your kid with his/her own Bank Account, then suddenly sue a company because of what the kid bought, you obviously didn't have trust in your kid to begin with, ergo, don't get him/her a fucking back account -.-

I hope Facebook wins this, admittedly something needs to change for minors being allowed to buy things, but generally, i hope they win.

You can use a mobile to buy credits

Cheers

Vrach:

And this is pretty much like suing the shop when your kid grabs money out of your wallet and goes to buy himself a Kit-Kat. If your child took money from you without your knowledge, the problem does not lie in anyone but your own stupid, incompetent self, something you only prove further by blaming someone else for it.

Minors aren't deemed able to make financial transactions on their own, so in this case the right of the parent wouldn't be to blame the shop, but to declare the transaction (the buying of the kitkat) null and void.

It gets a bit more complicated when its eaten, but if a parent comes in demanding restitution on an item then the shop is legally obliged to do so.

And on another note: sueing a company because your kid did something he shouldn't have certainly reeks of bad parenting, but so far that smell is all we have to go on.
She might possibly be an awful parent, but conclusively stating such when you don't know anything beyond that she sued definitely makes you a douche.

Whatever happened to "Go online with the supervision of your parents" or "Come join us online, but ask your parents first". Or did that die out in the late '90s early '00s.

Dear Parents,

Facebook is not a nanny.

Spend time with your kids.

Alternatively, stop leaving your wallet lying around.

Sincerely,
Me.

Frivolous lawsuits like these are (one reason) why our justice system is so screwed up.

I'm gonna say the same thing I said regarding that Apple lawsuit with the smurfberries... How the heck do these kids have access to their parents' credit cards? Looks like you can't leave your purse lying around just anywhere in your home these days... Crafty little teens...

I don't see a problem here that couldn't be solved by some good old keeping your savings away from your children.

Why do people even give children credit cards? I've only ever had debit cards, and when I was young my parents were the only ones who were able to transfer money into the account it accessed. Control over what I spent. Easy.

Kid spending his own money on a game - kids fault.
kid spending his parents money on a game - parents fault.
Where does facebook come in?

Kargathia:

Vrach:

And this is pretty much like suing the shop when your kid grabs money out of your wallet and goes to buy himself a Kit-Kat. If your child took money from you without your knowledge, the problem does not lie in anyone but your own stupid, incompetent self, something you only prove further by blaming someone else for it.

Minors aren't deemed able to make financial transactions on their own, so in this case the right of the parent wouldn't be to blame the shop, but to declare the transaction (the buying of the kitkat) null and void.

Really? Cause I haven't in my entire life heard of such thing. They are perfectly able to make financial transactions on their own, what they're not able to do (afaik) is have a credit card (on their own), because that requires being an adult (perhaps it's possible with the signature of one, which, if it's the case, makes this lawsuit even more preposterous). You're saying any parent can walk into a store any underage person went into and bought something and demand their money back, that's just straight up bullshit.

Kargathia:
And on another note: sueing a company because your kid did something he shouldn't have certainly reeks of bad parenting, but so far that smell is all we have to go on.
She might possibly be an awful parent, but conclusively stating such when you don't know anything beyond that she sued definitely makes you a douche.

1. The parent has raised the child in such a manner that the child feels it's ok to STEAL from the parent - really think about the severity of this. Put yourself in the situation of that parent and imagine telling your friends "my child stole money from me today" - the parents I know, including my own, would be embarrassed as all hell by their child's action.
2. The parent blames the company the child used to spend the stolen money for "not doing enough to prevent that from happening"

Call me a douche all you like, those two things combined spell a bad parent. Hell, most people would accuse one of that based on first alone, personally I'd say there could be other influences - but it's the second, the inability to accept their own responsibility and deal with their own child instead of blaming someone else, that really cements in it my opinion.

Vrach:

One quick google search for documentation later...
Facebook credits hardly qualify as "necessities", so a legal guardian would be well within her rights to void a contract. Of course this is merely a legal basis on which she can (partially) base herself when lodging the suit; it won't fully cover her intentions of making Facebook do more to check whether minors have parental consent.

Also: whether transactions of goods are considered "contracts" is generally set by jurisprudence and state laws. Whether this is the case in California I honestly can't say.

And as to your second point: the funds being stolen is - once again - nothing but an assumption, which renders the rest of your argument moot.

Omigod, Billy bought $500 dollars of Facebook credits with my credit card...not his fault, he's just a kid, doesn't know any better...it's not my fault, because I'm me, and I'm not gonna blame myself...oh! Facebook! Right, it's Facebook's fault, because...they didn't stop him from buying them! And neglecting to stop him is pretty much the same as encouraging him, so that means Mark Zuckerberg is basically the snake from the Garden of Eden. It all makes sense now.

So what's my first action when I don't like something someone has done? Should I try to just get the money back? No, that would be too hard and complicated. I should sue them instead!

Am I missing something, or is that basically this lady's logic?

Kargathia:

Vrach:

One quick google search for documentation later...
Facebook credits hardly qualify as "necessities", so a legal guardian would be well within her rights to void a contract. Of course this is merely a legal basis on which she can (partially) base herself when lodging the suit; it won't fully cover her intentions of making Facebook do more to check whether minors have parental consent.

Also: whether transactions of goods are considered "contracts" is generally set by jurisprudence and state laws. Whether this is the case in California I honestly can't say.

And as to your second point: the funds being stolen is - once again - nothing but an assumption, which renders the rest of your argument moot.

That's just the thing, this isn't a contract. There's no contract involved. He's not buying a car or a house, he's buying virtual goods, there is no contract in that process. A contract is not an abstract word to throw around, it's a piece of paper required to do certain business that needs to be signed by adults. When you buy a car, sign up for a credit card or a loan or something, you sign a contract. No such thing is done for buying Facebook points, just like there's no such thing for buying Kit Kats, a carton of milk or any other such "simple" product. Besides, for her to void a contract, she must be the one who signed it. There's literally no other way around it to the best of my knowledge, even if the kid used a friend who's 25 or something to sign it, she couldn't do a damn thing because the contract would be in the responsibility of the adult person signing it.

And my apologies on the theft assumption, I misread the OP and thought it was a case where the son used a mother's credit card to buy Facebook credits (which, without her permission, would be theft). Still, what she's filing for is to protect exactly that kind of behaviour, and that's equally irresponsible. It shouldn't be up to someone else to protect you from your kid using your credit card.

Not to mention, it's useless. If a kid's prone to stealing from his parent (or any other adult for that matter), what exactly prevents him from opening a new profile or lying about his age on his current one?

Andy Chalk:
Like all such lawsuits, this one will no doubt be the subject of much debate on where parental responsibility ends and corporate responsibility begins. There's no question that some and perhaps even most of these games are designed to hook players and get them spending money, but why do so many 14-year-olds seem to have such an easy time accessing their parents' credit cards? I can only guess what would have happened if I'd done such a thing at that age, but I strongly suspect that "apocalyptic" would be a mild way of describing it.

Man, these are getting tougher. But that's a good thing. It means we're beginning to weed through the stupid, easy ones, and get to the cases that ask the right questions.

For me, rather than addressing the issue, I'm more drawn to how we as gamers handle the issue. Already in this thread, we're seeing the reactionary defensive posture -- they take any criticism of a game company's dealings to be an attack on gaming itself. We're not going to get anywhere like that, because it only allows the entrenched mentality to further paint us as unreasonable and immature.

What's more, we're seeing a lot of assumptions. People assume the parent is giving the kid the credit card. People assume it is, in fact, a credit card. People assume the parent is not also punishing the child (though not publicly). And at the root of all of these assumptions is one central misconception:

One side must be completely right, so the other side must be completely wrong.

I'm sure these parents realize they need to keep a better eye on the kids... but why would they tell us that? It's not our business what punishments they've handed down. What we're seeing is them dealing with the other side of the issue: the child-targeting tactics of these types of games.

Supervision in the digital arena is much harder than people think. Internet is everywhere, even if you don't give your kid a laptop, smart phone, or other mobile internet device. Even those parents who really try to stay on top of things are going to miss stuff, and those parents just want to take steps to ensure the system isn't unfairly slanted against their kids' best interests.

I'm usually the first to jump on parents about not taking responsibility. And as that's often part of the problem, I'm sure these parents need to try a bit harder, too. But even I can't ignore the fact that marketing minds have spent billions of dollars on learning how to target ads at kids, and how to manipulate the minds of their viewers. No, it's not witchcraft, but they've got scientifically-proven methods of getting at people -- and even the best parent can't invest billions of dollars on researching how to counter all of it.

Here's what Facebook needs to do:

1. If you're under 16, your account has to be "sponsored" by a parent/guardian's account. Don't like it, don't get a Facebook.

2. Sponsored accounts can't make purchases until they are approved through the sponsor's account. Your parent gets a notification that Jonny is trying to buy credits, and they can approve or deny the request. This is regardless of who is paying. It simply makes sure parents know before the purchase happens, rather than only after.

3. Any changes/approvals over a sponsored account are handled through the sponsoring account, and every action requires a password separate from the login password, which must be entered every time -- so kids can't take advantage of the fact that maybe Mom and Dad are always logged in.

4. Parents should be able to get a Facebook App that can help check for unauthorized accounts in their kids' names -- even if it does something as simple as run a search and post a picture that says, "Is this your kid?." Plenty of parents aren't as tech savvy as their kids, so it doesn't hurt to help get them ahead of the curve a little. I'm sure someone would be willing to create something like that.

Vrach:

Quoting from the UCC (Uniform Commercial Code)

1-201(11) [Revised 1-201(11)]:

"Contract" means the total legal obligation which results from the parties'
agreement as affected by this Act and any other applicable rules of law.

Admittedly a lovely example of obtuse legalese, but it does stipulate that a "contract" can mean quite a bit more than a piece of paper with two signatures.
The mother also is perfectly capable of declaring any contract (as engaged by the minor) void - after all she still is his legal guardian.

If, as you mention, the kid would've gotten another adult to buy the points in his stead, then she would have to bring legal action against him for dealing with the minor. Facebook would've had a legally binding transaction with an adult, and could not be held responsible in any way.

As to whether Companies should be responsible for the full supervision of their dealings with minors: no. Definitely not.
I disagree with anyone calling her an awful parent without any facts to go on whatsoever, but in the end it's still her job to raise the kid, not Facebook's.

I swear to god this is Kyle's mom! She makes a mistake in parenting and blames it on everyone but herself. Had I ever stolen my mother's wallet Death would have come for my soul!

Kargathia:

Vrach:

Quoting from the UCC (Uniform Commercial Code)

1-201(11) [Revised 1-201(11)]:

"Contract" means the total legal obligation which results from the parties'
agreement as affected by this Act and any other applicable rules of law.

Admittedly a lovely example of obtuse legalese, but it does stipulate that a "contract" can mean quite a bit more than a piece of paper with two signatures.
The mother also is perfectly capable of declaring any contract (as engaged by the minor) void - after all she still is his legal guardian.

If, as you mention, the kid would've gotten another adult to buy the points in his stead, then she would have to bring legal action against him for dealing with the minor. Facebook would've had a legally binding transaction with an adult, and could not be held responsible in any way.

As to whether Companies should be responsible for the full supervision of their dealings with minors: no. Definitely not.
I disagree with anyone calling her an awful parent without any facts to go on whatsoever, but in the end it's still her job to raise the kid, not Facebook's.

I don't speak legalese, but that doesn't look like it says "any transaction = contract" to me. From what I can read there, you need to find what "this Act" affects and my personal guess is that one time transactions (buying Facebook points, candy, soft drinks and your other "common" items) are not covered by it. I could be wrong, but I'm not seeing any proof of it yet and it makes zero sense to me cause it'd open some quite idiotic doors (imagine a parent walking into your store once a day returning something they're not happy their kid bought for whatever reason - might not be likely, but it still shouldn't be legally possible)

And I agree with you in principle, but I still stand by my opinion. Perhaps I'm biased against parents who act this way (the "won't somebody think of the children?!" crowd), but a parent who wants that sort of thing likely wants it because they aren't too capable of doing it themselves.

Vrach:

I don't speak legalese, but that doesn't look like it says "any transaction = contract" to me. From what I can read there, you need to find what "this Act" affects and my personal guess is that one time transactions (buying Facebook points, candy, soft drinks and your other "common" items) are not covered by it. I could be wrong, but I'm not seeing any proof of it yet and it makes zero sense to me cause it'd open some quite idiotic doors (imagine a parent walking into your store once a day returning something they're not happy their kid bought for whatever reason - might not be likely, but it still shouldn't be legally possible)

And I agree with you in principle, but I still stand by my opinion. Perhaps I'm biased against parents who act this way (the "won't somebody think of the children?!" crowd), but a parent who wants that sort of thing likely wants it because they aren't too capable of doing it themselves.

As to whether buying Facebook Points is considered a contract in California I honestly can't say either - details are being left up to state laws and jurisprudence. Necessities (food, shelter) never can be voided, but non-food small transactions occupy a legal grey area.

And for clarification: I'm aware of this law due to personal experience. When I was fourteen or so I thought it'd be cool to get myself a 4inch pocket knife. Bought it without too much trouble, as even then I could easily pass for 18, but my mother was none too thrilled.

Her law degree also cost me the subsequent argument as to whether she could return an item I had bought.

But to come back on topic: one indeed sees a few too many examples of parents trying to delegate responsibilities to companies, teachers, governments, and whomever else catches their fancy. That does not mean, however, that one shouldn't keep in mind that companies (like Facebook!) are aggressively marketing at that very same demographic of young children.

Lovely shades of murky gray, wouldn't you think?

Kargathia:
But to come back on topic: one indeed sees a few too many examples of parents trying to delegate responsibilities to companies, teachers, governments, and whomever else catches their fancy. That does not mean, however, that one shouldn't keep in mind that companies (like Facebook!) are aggressively marketing at that very same demographic of young children.

Lovely shades of murky gray, wouldn't you think?

Well yeah, but that's their job, innit? :)

And if both they and the parents can do their job right, everyone comes out just fine to the other side. I honestly don't see any shades of grey, this isn't like marketing cigarettes or even something as 'controversial' as games made for adults (or older teenagers), these are mostly just toys in digital form and as such, I don't find their marketing to be any more evil than that of, say, Pokemon or even something, while more stimulating, just as heavily marketed as LEGO.

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