When a 13-year-old signs up for Facebook and agrees to the terms and conditions of the site, buried within which is a phrase about consulting a parent or guardian before buying Facebook Credits, is that enough to shield the social networking site from parents who say their children are making purchases without their consent? That will be the subject of a class-action lawsuit that was recently filed against the online giant.
Arizonan Glynnis Bohannon says that her son used her credit card to purchase Facebook Credits, and believes the site should never have allowed that to happen. If her son charged purchases to her account, she claims, then she should be entitled to a refund. And she wants every parent in the United States who has faced a similar situation to join her in this legal act against the world’s largest social network. So far, the only response from Facebook has been to ask for the case to be taken to federal court.
In the Facebook terms and services, it 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.” So Facebook puts the onus on the end user. But is that enough? Just because something is in an end user license agreement doesn’t mean it will stand up in a court of law. The truth is, though, this case probably won’t even get that far. I smell a settlement here.