Facebook Credits have been a topic of discussion many times in our past, whether it be for their 30% profit margin for Facebook, Facebook's insistence that everyone use only their credits or their plan to get into mobile payments. Never before have we really covered the legal ramifications of this payment system, however; probably because there never was any, until now.
An Arizona mother, Glynnis Bohannon, has filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook because her 13-year-old child purchased Facebook Credits with her credit card without her permission. She is encouraging every parent who has had a similar situation to join her in her crusade. She, and anyone who joins her, will have two major stumbling blocks in winning this case. First, Facebook's policy, which you must agree to before registering for their service, states,
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.
That alone seems like a statement that will lose her the case, but that is not all. Hit the break to find out why else she will undoubtedly lose.
This is not an issue of Facebook allowing something that they shouldn't. In fact, the terms of service above shows that they do not allow it. They obviously could not prevent users under 18 from purchasing credits with their account, as that would prevent parents who are purposely purchasing them for their children to do so and that would be a major loss for the company. In fact, Bill Richardson, Manager of Payment Operation, said,
Users who are purportedly aged 13-17 purchased well in excess of $5,000,000 in Facebook Credits in calendar year 2011.
Facebook isn't going to give that up, for sure. So, what else could be a problem for this mother? The fact that the problem is with her own lack of parenting skills and not in the policing methods of Facebook. It is not Mark Zuckerberg's responsibility to keep your child from doing things they shouldn't - it is yours. So, if anything, this should be a case of whether or not you are doing your job as a parent.
I can tell you under no circumstances when I was a child would I have even thought of stealing my mother's credit card and purchasing something without her knowledge. I knew that the wrath of Hell would be upon me as soon as she found out. Now, however, the parent is going to yell at the retailer instead of the child, who is the person who actually did wrong? I think this woman, and anyone else who considers joining this suit, should sit down and think long and hard about their parenting skills and reevaluate how well they are really doing as a parent to their children.