Security issue in the Facebook Messenger Kids app lets kids as young as SIX chat to complete strangers
- Messenger Kids was launched by Facebook in 2017 as a child-friendly platform
- Critics soon expressed their concern after the company's many privacy violations
- It turned out that children in group chat were exposed to unverified adults
- Mark Zuckerberg's company has since issued a warning message to parents
Facebook is asking for new controversy this week – after it was revealed that the Messenger Kids app exposed children to unauthenticated adults.
The entire purpose of the app, launched in 2017 as a safe alternative to Facebook Messenger, was for parents to be able to determine who their children are talking to.
However, a design error has enabled unauthenticated adults to participate in the app's group chat feature with minors.
Since the news of the error, Facebook has closed a number of group conversations and warned parents about the possible security breach.
The app is designed for children between 6 and 12 years old because they are considered too young to have a normal Facebook profile.
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Warning: Mark Zuckerberg's company (photo) has since issued a notification to parents whose children use Messenger Kids – and may have been exposed to unauthenticated adults
& # 39; We recently informed some parents of users of Messenger Kids accounts of a technical error that we discovered regarding a small number of group chats & # 39 ;, a Facebook representative said in a statement.
& # 39; We have disabled the relevant chats and provided parents with additional information about Messenger Kids and online safety. & # 39;
The edge reported that & # 39; thousands & # 39; parents had received the message.
It is not clear now that the problem has existed for a long time, but it may have existed since the official launch of the product – about 18 months ago.
The problem is believed to be exclusive to the app's group chat feature.
When children have one-on-one conversations on Messenger Kids, they can only communicate with people who have been pre-approved by their parents.
Error: it is not clear now that the problem has existed for a long time, but it may have existed since the official launch of Messenger Kids (photo) 18 months ago
WHICH FACEBOOK told parents
We found a technical error that allowed the friend of (CHILD) (FRIEND) to create a group chat with (CHILD) and one or more of the parents-approved friends of (FRIEND).
We want you to know that we have disabled this group chat and ensure that such group chats are not allowed in the future.
If you have any questions about Messenger Kids and online safety, visit our Help Center and Messenger Kids Parental Control. We also appreciate your feedback.
This is designed to minimize the risk of exposure to strangers with bad intentions.
But when more than two users expand chats, any unauthenticated person can join the conversation – including adults.
Some parents worry that Facebook may have been in violation of the Children & # 39; s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which is intended to protect individuals under the age of thirteen.
If so, the social media giant can stand in line for a substantial fine.
Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission voted to pay Facebook a record amount of $ 5 billion after a long-term investigation into the repeated failure of the technology giant to protect the privacy of its users.
Facebook was fined for the deal with the defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, where private information of 87 million people was improperly shared.
The $ 5 billion fine is the largest fine against a technology company, but the shares in the company increased 1.8 percent after the announcement – as investors expected the penalty could have been more severe.
HOW CAN FACEBOOK PLAN IMPROVE PRIVACY?
In a blog post on March 6, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised to rebuild based on six & # 39; privacy-focused & # 39; principles:
- Private interactions
- Reduce sustainability
- Secure data storage
Zuckerberg promised end-to-end coding for all its messaging services, which are combined in such a way that users can communicate via WhatsApp, Instagram Direct and Facebook Messenger.
He calls this & # 39; interoperability & # 39 ;.
He also said that advancing, the company will not post messages or stories & # 39; longer than necessary & # 39; or & # 39; longer than people want & # 39; to hold.
This may mean, for example, that users have messages deleted automatically after a month or even a few minutes.
& # 39; Interoperability & # 39; ensures that messages remain encrypted, even when jumping from one messaging service, such as WhatsApp, to another, such as Instagram, Zuckerberg says.
Facebook also hopes to increase user confidence in how it stores their data.
Zuckerberg promised the site & # 39; will not store sensitive data in countries with weak human rights data such as privacy and freedom of expression to protect data from incorrect access & # 39 ;.
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