My Son Spent $1,400 on Farmville and All I Got Was… Nothing

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farmvilleADOTAS – “This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

The quintessential anti-drug ad of my childhood (though it did tend to make me hungry) should be updated after a 12-year-old British boy racked up $1,400 in debt playing Farmville, most of it on his mum’s credit card:

“This is your Visa bill. This is your Visa bill after your child starts playing Farmville. Holy shit!”

The boy’s mother was told by her credit card company that she could only get a refund if she turned him into the police. I think my parents might have done that, but this kid’s mother is more forgiving. Although Zynga won’t refund the money (Even if the family gives the goods back? Oh wait…), Facebook disabled the boy’s account and Zynga helpfully suggested using password protection in the future.

While the mother said her son is at fault, she did mention it was surprising no security systems picked up on his rampant spending, especially since he was using a credit card in a different name. A representative from HSBC mentioned to the Guardian that if the 625 pounds had been spent within two weeks on a gambling website, it would have raised red flags. But that much spent on Facebook credits apparently didn’t bat an eye.

I’m also not suggesting that Zynga or Facebook should shoulder the blame, but this incident certainly does paint Zynga as a dealer concerned about little except fueling its users’ habits. The fact it was a minor makes it a bit more sickening. Perhaps some new safeguards are in order?

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