Facebook’s Messenger Kids app flaw bypassed parental control to let kids join group chats with unauthorised users

By Digit NewsDesk | Published on Jul 23 2019
Facebook’s Messenger Kids app flaw bypassed parental control to let kids join group chats with unauthorised users

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HIGHLIGHTS

Facebook’s Messenger Kids app failed in its primary task because of a flaw.

The app is supposed to limit kids to talking only with users authorised by the parents.

A technical flaw enabled kids to join groups that also hosted unauthorised users.

Back in December 2017, Facebook announced Messenger Kids, which is a dedicated Messenger app for kids. The app comes equipped with parental controls so that parents can authorise whom their kids can talk to on the platform. However, it seems like the app failed in its primary task of keeping kids from talking to unauthorised users as The Verge was able to obtain an alert that Facebook is sending out to parents. Kids can be given the authorisation to talk to someone and, if that person creates a group, kids can join it. The alert blames a technical error that enabled kids to interact with other unauthorised users in such a group. 

The alert being sent by Facebook apparently reads, “Hi [PARENT], We found a technical error that allowed [CHILD]’s friend [FRIEND] to create a group chat with [CHILD] and one or more of [FRIEND]’s parent-approved friends. We want you to know that we’ve turned off this group chat and are making sure that group chats like this won’t be allowed in the future. If you have questions about Messenger Kids and online safety, please visit our Help Center and Messenger Kids parental controls. We’d also appreciate your feedback.” It is not known since when the flaw has been affecting the group chat option in the app. 

As per the report, this flaw is also legally sensitive in the US since the Messenger Kids app is meant for kids under the age of 13. This new issue doesn’t spell good news for the company since it has landed itself in hot water numerous times since the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reportedly fined Facebook $5 billion for privacy violations, which is said to be the biggest settlement amount ever given to a technology company. You can read more about it here.

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