Facebook unveils Messenger app for kids

Facebook Messenger is trying to attract a younger audience.

On Monday, the tech firm said it is rolling out a kid version of its messaging app, which already has more than 1 billion users worldwide.

Parents that download “Messenger Kids” would control who their children are chatting with through their Facebook account.

“Whether it’s using video chat to talk to grandparents, staying in touch with cousins who live far away, or sending mom a decorated photo while she’s working late to say hi, Messenger Kids opens up a new world of online communication to families,” wrote Loren Cheng, Facebook’s product management director in a blog post.

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While Facebook said Messenger Kids won’t display ads, some consumer advocacy groups still have privacy concerns.

“We urge Facebook to make its policies loud and clear – will the product remain ad-free? What data are they collecting and exactly how are they using it? Will parents get ads based on the service? Will they ever erase the group chats that kids are having?  These are simple questions that parents need answers to before they sign their kids up,” said James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, a San Francisco nonprofit that promotes online safety for children, in a statement.

Other companies such as YouTube, which has a version of its video app for children, have faced criticism for letting content that’s inappropriate for kids slip through its filters.

Facebook, like other social media sites, requires that users be at least 13 years old to sign up for an account.

Messenger Kids, which is rolling out in the United States in the Apple app store, is a standalone product. Parents who set up the service won’t be creating a Facebook account for their kids.

The app, which is designed for children between the ages of 6 to 12 years old, allows kids to send text, photos, videos and add stickers, frames and filters to their images.

Facebook outlines what data it collects from Messenger Kids in its privacy policy. That includes registration, activity and content shared on the app.

Above: Image of Messenger Kids provided by Facebook. 


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