Facebook's new Messenger app for kids has Congress asking about privacy

Health Secretary is dismayed by Facebook

Health Secretary is dismayed by Facebook

Company Facebook introduced a new app called Messenger Kids.

With the ACCC already breathing down its neck, Facebook has come out with its newest ploy - Messenger Kids. After adults enter their Facebook account information into the app, they are asked to create the child's profile and which friends or relatives he or she will be allowed to connect with on Messenger.

Sens. Ed Markey of MA and Richard Blumenthal of CT wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday requesting clarification concerning the social network's newly launched "Messenger Kids" app.

"Given the sensitive nature of children's personal information, Messenger Kids must take responsible steps to protect their privacy and comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)", responded Mr. Markey and Mr. Blumenthal, both members of the Senate Commerce Committee.

The app launches on Apple's App Store first.

Facebook says the app complies with U.S. child online privacy laws and contains no adverts.

Davis said that, if a parent decides to delete their child's account, Facebook will also delete any data from its own servers.

The senators' letter asked Facebook whether its committed to keeping Messenger Kids ad-free and what third-parties, if any, will have access to users' information, among other questions. This is a law that is created to protect kids from online exploitation. The device can then be handed over to your child so he or she can start chatting with the family and friends you approve. Bazarova, who writes more about the launch of Messenger Kids in this Medium story, recommends building a "Family Media Use Plan" to ensure kid's safety and healthy development as it relates to digital media. "In other apps, they can contact anyone they want or be contacted by anyone", Facebook's head of Messenger David Marcus notes. From there, kids can dive instantly into a video chat or text thread with their contacts.

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But, he said it remains to be seen whether the app will continue to stay ad-free.

Children and parents can block any contacts at any time.

A library of kid-appropriate and specially chosen GIFs, frames, stickers, masks and drawing tools lets them decorate content and express their personalities. "Video calls become so much more playful with AR", says Marcus. Unlike with its full social network, the data collection will be limited, Facebook said, and the children will need their parents' permission to use it. Messenger Kids, meanwhile, is a result of seeing what kids like, which is images, emoji and the like. "We've been working closely with the FTC so we're lockstep with them".

One thing that might surprise some people is that there's no way for parents to secretly spy on what their kids are saying in their chats.

We've worked extensively with parents and families to shape Messenger Kids and we're looking forward to learning and listening as more children and families start to use the iOS preview.

"While we appreciate Facebook taking steps to protect this vulnerable population by including parental controls, establishing an ad-free environment, and restricting some data collection, we remain concerned about where sensitive information collected through this app could end up and for what goal it could be used", they wrote.

"I'm an avid social media user, but I don't feel my kids need more social interaction", said Quirion, 39, whose three children are between ages 3 and 9. Facebook has also spent a lot of resources to make it a reality.

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