Washington (February 21, 2019) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, released the following statement today after Facebook. In January 2019, Senators Markey and Blumenthal sent a letter to Facebook demanding information about new evidence that the company knowingly manipulated children into spending their parents’ money without permission while playing games on Facebook.
“Facebook’s answers to our reasonable questions were inadequate and do not inspire trust. Facebook failed to explain why it did not act on widespread complaints of fraud until a court finally stepped in. It is clear that Facebook did not step in when it became aware that developers were encouraging children to make unauthorized credit card purchases, even when those games targeted children. We did not even receive an explicit answer to our question about when Mark Zuckerberg became aware of Facebook’s friendly fraud problem, ” said Senator Markey and Senator Blumenthal. “Facebook’s claim that it had in place robust policies to ‘make clear’ to users that they were spending real money is completely inconsistent with what users report. Teens were racking up thousands of dollars of charges. This was not a rare issue – almost ten percent of the money spent by young users playing games was later disputed by parents. The company was unwilling to commit to a reasonable request to keeping youth-directed content free and without advertisements. We urge the FTC to review in detail the complaint that was filed today on this issue. It shouldn’t take another settlement for Facebook to meet its ethical obligation to protect kids and families on its platform. Children are not ‘whales’.”
A copy of Facebook’s response to the Senators can be found HERE.