Facebook reportedly duped kids into spending their parents’ money in online games.
The social media giant targeted kids in an aggressive effort to pump up revenue from games like Angry Birds, PetVille and Ninja Saga, Reveal reported Thursday, citing court documents from a class action lawsuit.
The report is based on the more than 135 pages of unsealed documents that include internal company memos, secret strategies and employee emails, according to Reveal. A federal judge ordered the documents, which are from 2010 to 2014, to be unsealed after a request from the publication.
The cited documents allege that Facebook encouraged “friendly fraud,” meaning developers should let kids unknowingly spend money on their games. The social network also allegedly ignored employees’ warnings that it was tricking underage users who didn’t realize credit cards were linked the Facebook accounts.Some went so far as to develop a fix for the problem, but the company never implemented it, according to Reveal.
One teenager reportedly spent $6,500 over about two weeks of Facebook gaming and the company allegedly denied refunds in cases like this. Employees called such gamers “whales,” which Reveal noted is a casino industry term for big spenders.
Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but told Reveal the company routinely examines practices and “in 2016 agreed to update our terms and provide dedicated resources for refund requests related to purchased made by minors on Facebook.”