Facebook Launched Messenger Kids App

Facebook Launched Messenger Kids App

Facebook launched a new version of its communications app, specifically targeting children.

The newly developed app allows for parental control, as a means to help safeguard pre-teens who are prone to using unauthorized social-media accounts. Facebook is usually authorized for adult users, while with the launch of this new app, Facebook is planning on pushing down the age of when it is acceptable for children to use social media.

The unauthorized teens, who lied about their age to create a Facebook account, might find the animated emojis and GIFs of Messenger Kids too babyish, and are unlikely to convert to the new app, says a critic.

Facebook launched Messenger Kids for children aged between 6 and 12 years, in the U.S. on November 4, 2017, saying it took extraordinary care and precautions. The company reveals that while developing the application, its team of 100 professionals consulted with parent groups, advocates, and childhood-development experts to reflect their concerns. To download Messenger Kids on a child’s account, parents are required to verify their identity by logging into Facebook. Also, as kids cannot be found in the search option, parents are required to initiate and respond to friend requests.

The application is said to bar all advertisements and will not collect any data from kids for the advertising purposes. Nor will the kids’ accounts be converted into Facebook accounts after they turn 13 years of age.  Facebook will collect the content of messages, photos, and features used by children on the app, as well as collect information about the device being used. Facebook claims to use the information collected to improve the app, sharing it within the family of companies that are part of Facebook as well as outside companies that provide customer support, analysis, and technical infrastructure to the application or the company. However, critics say that Facebook should be more precise about the outsiders it includes into its list of information sharing.

In response to questions, a spokesperson for Facebook said “It is 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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