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Facebook to Close Messenger for Kids Groups

And because Facebook stalkers are not enough from deterring you from creating a Facebook account, here’s one more incentive. Recently, Facebook announced that it would be closing down several Messenger for Kids group chats, which were found to be in violation with COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act).

The company has also taken steps to inform the parents that their children’s accounts have been compromised. The announcement came soon after the rumors about Facebook’s $5 billion fine in the Cambridge Analytica case started to circulate.

What’s Messenger for Kids?

Launched in December 2017, the service allows children under 13 to safely talk online with people if they get pre-approved by their parents. Basically, it’s like this: any parent fears that his child might be coaxed by a sexual predator to do God knows what, but at the same time, you really cannot say “no” to your kid when he/she asks you to use Facebook.

This is how Messenger For Kids was born – once your kid is done creating the account, you can pre-approve a list of talk buddies (i.e., you can approve you kid’s conversations with his uncle, cousin, sister, a couple of classmates, etc.). Sounds like a parents’ dreams come true, but then reality spoiled everything.

Per Facebook’s statement, some Messenger for Kids groups had to be forcibly shut down after the company discovered that some of the children could have been exposed to persons outside the ‘trustees’ group.’ More specifically, if someone from the parental-approved list invited someone to the group chat, the child would have been exposed to a complete stranger without the parents even knowing.

After the issue was discovered, Facebook said that it closed down the ‘defective’ group chats, but not before informing the parents. Is this the beginning of another lawsuit for Zuckerberg’s wunderkind? I don’t know for certain, but the fact that this thing went unnoticed for so long does violate COPPA and everything that it stands for. And, perhaps this is the proverbial last drop; since Messenger for Kids was launched, Facebook was accused on many occasion of breaching COPPA by actively gathering info on children without parental consent.

Wrap-up

Messenger for Kids has now been sanitized or, at least that’s what Facebook claims. Does this mean that you can allow your kid to chat over Facebook without supervision? I wouldn’t bet my life on that. So, what’s you take on this whole business? Shoot me a comment and let me know what are your thoughts.

About Daniel Sadler

Old-school PC gamer, poetry buff, cat lover, tech wiz. His writing career began almost two decades ago when he modestly acknowledged that hindsight or, lack thereof, can compromise security. He enjoys spending quality time with his friends and family. Most of his friends refer to Daniel as a "man of a few words, but, man, what words!" His interests include cybersecurity, IT, blogging, and, of course, everything related to technology.

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