Flawed Messenger kids App can put Facebook in trouble again

by July 23, 2019 0 comments

Facebook messenger kids app is built in a way that it prevents kids from chatting with people who aren’t approved by their parents.  But a design flaw first noticed by The Verge allowed the users to avoid this protection through the group chat system, allowing kids to get involved in a group chat with strangers.

Facebook is alerting the users and closing down the group chats quietly, without making any public statement disclosing the issue.

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

In a standard chat, children can initiate conversations with users who have been approved by their parents. But when applied to a group chat, those permissions became more complicated due to the involvement of various users. Whoever launched the group could invite any user to chat with them, even if the user was not allowed to chat with the other children in the group. Due to this, thousands of children were involved in a chat with unauthorized users.

As per Facebook, it is unclear as to how long the bug has been present in the app, since it’s launch in December 2017. Children’s Online Privacy Act (COPPA) makes this particular defect troublesome for Facebook as Messenger Kids is designed for users who are under the age of 13. Previously Facebook has already been accused of violating COPPA by gathering user data.

The occurrence of this issue can turn out to be worse for facebook as facebook is currently settling charges related to Cambridge Analytica with the Federal Trade Commission. FTC is expected to publicly reveal the settlement this week which could result in a mandatory privacy committee and a fine of $5 billion for the tech giant.

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