Flaw in Facebook kids app lets children chat with unapproved users

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Facebook has admitted on Monday that a “technical error” allowed thousands of kids who used the company’s messaging app for children to join group chats with people who weren’t approved by their parents.

The social networking platform introduced this app, called Messenger Kids Service, which aimed children between 6 and 12 years old send messages and video chat with family members and friends who their parents accept.

“We recently notified some parents of Messenger Kids account users about a technical error that we detected affecting a small number of group chats,” a Facebook’s spokesman was quoted.

“We turned off the affected chats and provided parents with additional resources on Messenger Kids and online safety,” the company added.

The spokesman also said that Facebook is still looking into how the error happened but it has fixed the issue. He couldn’t answer questions about how the social media giant found out about the error.

Messenger Kids is a video chat and messaging app designed for kids to communicate with family and close friends that parents or caregivers approve. Parents set up and manage their child’s Messenger Kids account through their own Facebook account.

According to the report in The Verge on Tuesday, “it’s unclear how long the bug was present in the app’s group chat feature.”

The app has been controversial since its launch in December 2017. Child advocacy groups have repeatedly urged Facebook to shut down the app, arguing it violates a federal law aimed at protecting a child’s online privacy.

By facing the flak from lawmakers and experts, Facebook in February this year decided not to build a new app called “LOL” to let children share and post humorous meme content. Instead, the social media giant said it would focus more on its Messenger Kids service.

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