Facebook Messenger Kids App Miserably Fails To Deliver On Privacy Protection Promise
Facebook launched its chat service aimed at kids under 13-years-old in 2017, touting the app as having strict privacy controls that allowed parents to control who their kids talked to. However, the Messenger Kids app failed to deliver on the promise of strict parental and privacy controls. Facebook has reportedly sent messages to parents of users of the app to inform them that there was "a technical error" that allowed the friend of a child to create a group chat within the app that would invite one or more of the second child's friends to a group conversation.
Essentially this allowed the child to talk to friends of their approved friends, without parental permission or vetting. Facebook has been quiet on the issue, which surfaced when The Verge obtained emails sent to parents. Facebook has yet to make the issue public, but it has confirmed the issue to The Verge.
Facebook wrote, "We recently notified some parents of Messenger Kids to account users about a technical error that we detected affecting a small number of group chats. We turned off the affected chats and provided parents with additional resources on Messenger Kids and online safety."
The problem is believed to be related to how permissions are applied in a group chat allowing group chats to override the system of required parental approval for contacts. There were thousands of children under the age of 13 who were left in chats with users that hadn't been authorized by parents. It's unclear how this will affect the app or when Facebook will fix the flaw. As of writing, no investigation had been started by the FTC into the issue. Facebook continues to fail at protecting user privacy as it promises and is currently facing a fine of $5 billion over privacy issues.