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Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A coalition of groups filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission Thursday alleging that Facebook violated children's privacy and unfairly pushed them to make purchases in applications hosted on its platform.

Why it matters: The FTC is already investigating the social network’s privacy practices regarding the Cambridge Analytica data leak last year, in light of an earlier settlement it reached with the company.

Details: The organizations, including childhood media advocates Common Sense as well as other advocacy groups, are making two main charges:

  1. That Facebook violated the federal prohibition on “unfair” practice by deceiving kids into making purchases and then making it hard for them to get a refund. "Facebook took advantage of unsuspecting kids, one of whom employees referred to as a 'whale,' using casino parlance to refer to the child’s high volume of purchases,” their complaint says.
  2. That Facebook violated a major child privacy law.

The complaint follows the release of information about the purchases uncovered by Reveal, an investigative reporting outlet, through court documents in a case over the issue settled in 2016.

Yes, but: The FTC may not choose to start an investigation based on the complaint.

A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement that the company offers tools to parents and "also has safeguards in place regarding minors' purchases."

  • "In 2016, we updated our terms and now provide dedicated resources for refund requests related to purchases made by minors on Facebook, including special training for our reviewers," per the statement.

Editor's note: This post has been updated to include Facebook's statement.

Go deeper

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations are "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more power outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.

Updated 1 hour ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand.

2 hours ago - World

North Korea launches 4th suspected missile test this month

A news broadcast in Seoul, South Korea, of an apparent North Korean missile test on Monday morning local time. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea's military fired "two suspected short-range ballistic missiles" eastward from Pyongyang on Monday morning local time, per South Korean and Japanese officials.

Why it matters: The fourth such launch since Jan. 5 comes days after North Korea's military warned of "stronger" action if the U.S. moved to have more sanctions imposed on the country.