Two years ago, Facebook launched an offshoot of its popular Messenger app called Messenger Kids. This tool, designed for children under the age of 13, provided a private chat space for children to connect with other users that their parents first approved. However, according to a report from The Verge this week, there was just one problem: a design flaw in the app actually allowed children to chat with strangers.
According to the report, Facebook has been “quietly” shutting down these group chats for about a week and notifying parents. However, the social media giant has not issued any public statement on this apparent privacy breach. It took reporters obtaining copies of the parental alerts for the news to leak.
“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 spokesperson told CNBC. “We turned off the affected chats and provided parents with additional resources on Messenger Kids and online safety.”
Facebook is doing its best to quickly sweep this problem under the rug, and it’s easy to see why. This potentially-major privacy violation could not have arrived at a worse time for company, as it’s already in the news for paying a record-breaking fine to the U.S. government. But with the privacy of underage children on the line, you can bet this is going to get the attention of advocates and lawmakers.
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