The American online social media and social networking service company, Facebook, Inc. has come under fire once again for an exposed massive flaw in their Facebook Messenger Kids app.
Messenger Kids app is a social network app which was created by Facebook specifically with kids in mind. The free messaging and video calling app is designed for kids ages six to 1 and 13 can be used on both Android and iOS devices.
The Kids app, which was launched two years ago, allows children communicate with contacts that have been approved by their parents. Users can also register without phone numbers, but only with their first and last names.
According to The Verge reports, Messenger Kids app has allowed unapproved strangers to penetrate a couple of children’s’ group chats in the app.
The Verge reports that Facebook quietly notified thousands of parents of the security concern via email this week, but it’s unknown how long the design flaw afflicted the app.
“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.” – Facebook told The Verge.
The social network company has spent the last few days shutting down group chats in question and alerting parents with the above message. However, Facebook is yet to make a public statement about the safety issue, which arose from unique permission settings within Messenger Kids.
A Facebook representative told the The Verge: “We recently notified some parents of Messenger Kids account users about a technical error that we detected affecting a small number of group chats.” They further stated that they turned off the affected chats and provided parents with additional resources on Messenger for Kids and online safety.
What parents can do about Messenger Kids
Currently, the Messenger Kids group chat feature is disabled. Make sure that as a parent, you check what your children are doing on their phones so that they are safe. With any social network, parents are advised to communicate with their kids about proper digital communication practices.
Please note Messenger Kids isn’t yet available in South Africa, but always keep an eye on what your children are doing online.
Image Courtesy: theverge.com
Zita Zimande is a sports news journalist from the University of Johannesburg. Besides being a sports fanatic, she loves to cook during her spare time.