Facebook targets kids with new messaging app

05 DEC 2017

Facebook launched a free video calling and messaging app aimed at children aged 6 to 12 years old, though it gives parents full control over who can be on the contact list.

Parents will authenticate their child’s device using their own Facebook login and password so children won’t need to have an account. Named Messenger Kids, the service works on Wi-Fi so there is also no need for a phone number.

“Kids can only connect with parent-approved contacts, which creates a more controlled environment. Messages don’t disappear and can’t be hidden in case parents would like to check in,” the company stated on the app’s website.

Parents and approved adults like grandparents can communicate with children through Facebook’s main Messenger app.

“Unlike other places on the web, kids can only chat with people their parent has approved, making Messenger Kids a safer, more controlled environment,” it stated on the website.

Messenger Kids is currently available in the US App Store with plans to bring it to Android devices and Amazon Fire tablets soon.

The app will have “appropriate” masks, frames, stickers and GIFs allowing children to create videos and decorate photos.

Concerns
Facebook said the app is designed to be compliant with important child privacy laws including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and is advert-free.

The social media giant will collect data sent via the app, a move which was criticised by groups including Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Public Citizen.

In a statement to Wired, a Facebook representative said: “It’s important to remember that Messenger Kids does not have ads and we don’t use the data for advertising. This provision about sharing information with vendors from the privacy policy is for things like providing infrastructure to deliver messages.”

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Saleha Riaz

Saleha joined Mobile World Live in October 2014 as a reporter and works across all e-newsletters - creating content, writing blogs and reports as well as conducting feature interviews...More

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