Facebook was misleading users about in-app billing, practice dubbed "friendly fraud"

Facebook was misleading users about in-app billing, practice dubbed "friendly fraud"

Facebook just can't catch a bre...

Sorry, let's try that again: we just keep finding out more and more of the sketchy stuff the social media giant has been up to over the last few years.

According to CBS, Facebook was intentionally misleading users playing games on its platform. Per court documents from a case back in 2012, the social media firm wasn't informing players when they were being charged within a game.

Said lawsuit was brought by one Glynnis Bohannah - before it turned into a class action - whose son racked up a bill of almost $1,000 playing Ninja Saga on Facebook.

She had used her credit card to pay an initial $19.95 for her son to access the game, with Facebook keeping the payment details. When Bohannah watched her child playing, she saw that there was no indication that a transaction was occurring.

"I said, 'show me what you are doing,' so there was a little stack of coins and it would get low and it would blink at him and he would hit it and it would go brrrring and the coins would shoot up again," Bohannan said.

"No symbol of my visa card, no symbol $19.95 with the dollar symbol. Nothing! Just like he had told me."

In true social media giant fashion, Facebook reportedly dubbed this practice, um, "friendly fraud", and was widely practised. This was when a younger audience used an application on a guardian's account, presumably with credit card information attached.

The case was settled in 2016.

In a statement, the company said: "We routinely examine our own practices, and in 2016 agreed to update our terms and provide dedicated resources for refund requests related to purchases made by minors on Facebook."

All of this, of course, comes in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, as well as numerous instances of Facebook lying or misleading its customers. So, truth be told, we're honestly not surprised by this.

In fact, while we're at it, here are some predicted Facebook-related headlines for the coming year:

"Facebook announces new blackmail business model: $100 per month so the social media giant doesn't publish users' innermost secrets!"

"Facebook admits to beaming advertising directly into users' brains, Zuckerberg says he is sorry (he got caught, again)"

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.