Cloud Labor within Social Gaming Facilitating Child Labor?

An initiative that offers virtual payments for use in social and online games in return for performing tasks may promote child labor speculates a post on ReadWriteWeb.

CrowdFlower, which focuses on harnessing “cloud labor” from around the world and Gambit, a company that specializes in facilitating payment solutions for online games, offer users of games like MyFarm real-world tasks to perform—such as tagging photos or reviewing content—and returns payment in the form of virtual currency.

What caught the eye of ReadWriteWeb was Gambit’s explanation of its latest offering: “…making this a superb way to engage younger users, or international users in emerging markets.”

The article’s author, Dana Oshiro, wrote:

While others might argue that the web-task barter system is akin to earning one’s allowance, the fact that children could be scraping the web to help businesses advertise to us seems somewhat exploitative. While it’s too early to say how this program will pan out, there’s no doubt that CrowdFlower and Gambit will have to walk a fine line to keep this program ethical.

A Gambit employee, Susan Su, jumped into the comment section to provide a little clarity, writing that while Facebook does not “knowingly allow” users under the age of 13 to register, “it’s always tough to enforce requirements like these on the Internet.”

Su continued:

That said, we do know that users over the age of 15 make up the bulk of our transactions, and while parental consent is still strongly recommended for people aged 15-18, it’s true that a lot of teens are making their own spending and work decisions around that age. As Lukas said, this is completely new territory for social game users, for developers, and for Crowdflower and Gambit.

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