Just when we thought we had heard the last of all the bad news Facebook had to offer in 2018, 2019 is taking things a notch higher. Information from RevealNews has shown that Facebook was involved in a “friendly fraud” as it allows children to spend money on games without parent’s consent.
It gets more worrying as Facebook further encouraged the fraud by pushing developers to allow games like such as Angry Birds, PetVille and Ninja Saga to entice children to spend money without parental guidance in an effort to maximize revenue.
Emails and internal memos released showed that many times the kids did not know they were spending money as they were unaware that their parent’s credit cards are connected to their profiles. Even Facebook employees knew this and ignored warnings from its employees as it named the shameful deed “Friendly Fraud” in a memo.
The memo was titled “Friendly Fraud — what it is, why it’s challenging, and why you shouldn’t try to block it.”
Even when employees developed a method to reduce children being hoodwinked, the company refused to implement and instead, took things further by denying requests for refunds. Parents had to rely on courts and Better Business Bureau to get their money back
“In nearly all cases the parent knew their child was playing Angry Birds, but didn’t think the child would be allowed to buy anything without their password or authorization first (Like in iOS),” a Facebook employee wrote.
“The average age of those playing Angry Birds was 5 years old, according to Facebook’s analysis. Then the employee wrote what is a common theme throughout the unsealed documents, “If we were to build risk models to reduce it, we would most likely block good TPV.” “TPV” is total purchase value, also called revenue.
“If Facebook tried to stop children and their parents from unwittingly spending money, it would hurt the company’s revenue..”
“And for those customers who turned to their credit cards for help, Facebook was devising another strategy. It would design a program that automatically disputed customer’s chargeback requests, without even bothering to review the merits of those requests, according to another unsealed document.”
“Despite the many warning signs, which continued for years, Facebook made a clear decision. It pursued a goal of increasing its revenues at the expense of children and their parents.”
Zuckerberg Defends Facebook
Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg has come out with a sort of a weak damage control article on the Wall Street Journal, trying to remind us that Facebook does not sell user data.
Titled “The Facts About Facebook,” here is an excerpt from Zuckerberg’s column,
“Ultimately, I believe the most important principles around data are transparency, choice, and control. We need to be clear about the ways we’re using information, and people need to have clear choices about how their information is used. We believe regulation that codifies these principles across the internet would be good for everyone.” He wrote
“It’s important to get this right, because there are clear benefits to this business model. Billions of people get a free service to stay connected to those they care about and to express themselves. And small businesses—which create most of the jobs and economic growth around the world—get access to tools that help them thrive.” He added