Advertisement

Facebook “Messenger Kids” lets under-13s chat with whom parents approve

Facebook “Messenger Kids” lets under-13s chat with whom parents approve
From TechCrunch - December 4, 2017

For the first time, Facebook is opening up to children under age 13 with a privacy-focused app designed to neutralize child predator threats that plague youth-focused competitors like Snapchat. Rolling out today on iOS in the US, Messenger Kids lets parents download the app on their childs phone or tablet, create a profile for them, and approve friends and family who they can text and video chat with from the main Messenger app.

Tweens dont sign up for a Facebook account and dont need a phone number, but can communicate with other Messenger and Messenger Kids users parents sign-off on, so younger siblings dont get left out of the family group chat. Weve been working closely with the FTC so were lockstep with them. This works, they saidFacebook product management director Loren Cheng tells me. In other apps, they can contact anyone they want or be contacted by anyone Facebooks head of Messenger David Marcus notes.

Special proactive detection safety filters prevent children from sharing nudity, sexual content, or violence, while a dedicated support team will respond quickly to reported or flagged content. Facebook even manually sifted Giphy to build a kid-friendly version of the GIF sharing engine. And with childish augmented reality masks and stickers, video calls with grandma could be a lot more fun and a lot less silent or awkward.

Facebook wont be directly monetizing Messenger Kids, automatically migrating kids to real accounts when they turn 13, or collecting data so that it complies with Childrens Online Privacy Protections Act (COPPA) law. But the app could prime kids to become life-long Facebook users, and lock their families deeply into the platform where theyll see ads.

When you think about things at scale that we do to get people to care more about Messenger, this is one that addresses a real need for parents say Facebooks head of Messenger David Marcus. But the side effect will be that they use Messenger more and create family groups.Marcus tells me hes excited about getting his 8-year-old into the family chat alongside his 14- and 17-year-old children.

How Messenger Kids Works

Its important to understand that kids under 13 still cant sign up for a Facebook account. Instead, parents download the Messenger Kids app to a childs iPhone or iPad (Android coming soon). Once the parent has authenticated in with their own account, they set up a mini-profile with their kids name and photo. Then, using the Messenger Kids bookmark in the main Facebook app, parents can approve anyone who is friends with them as a contact for their kid, like aunts and uncles or godparents. Messenger Kids is interoperable with the main Messenger app, so adults dont actually have to download the Kids app.

Advertisement

Continue reading at TechCrunch »