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Facebook wants kids under 13 to try new Messenger app

Facebook wants kids under 13 to try new Messenger app”

The social media giant added it designed the app because many children are going online without safeguards.

Judging from Facebook's own announcement posts, Messenger Kids is seemingly set up to maintain an appropriate space for young minds looking to dip into the wild world of the web. Parents fully control the contact list and kids can't connect with contacts that their parent does not approve.

Playful masks, emojis and sound effects bring conversations to life.

Messenger kids allows children to talk, send photos, videos and text messages to friends who are approved by their parents and adult relatives.

The "like" mechanism is a key part of Messenger Kids - and as a society we might wonder if we want to introduce children as young as six to the concept of online peer validation.

With so many people starting to rely on Messenger as their main form of communication, a lot of people are taking to Twitter to vent their frustrations.

Before Facebook wrote any code or drew any designs for the app, it says it started research 18 months ago to find out what kids and parents wanted out of a potential product.

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That's important - the obvious commercial benefit to this new app might be to target ads to parents based on what their kids are talking about. The parent account won't notified about the attempt though, nor will they get a message stating the child has unblocked someone. Then you can add their name and approved contacts. Granted, this isn't a major dealbreaker for diligent parents, but we have to acknowledge that "catfishing" is a thing and it only takes one bogus friend request to slip through to compromise a child's safety.

Chief executive Javed Khan said today: "We have serious concerns about young children using Messenger Kids and would urge Facebook to work with child safety experts before introducing it in the United Kingdom to protect children from grooming or sharing inappropriate images".

Update: While Facebook is now working properly for most of the users, its messenger and chat services are still facing down time.

The company said that children's information will not be used for any ads and there are no ads in the app. It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases.

For now, the app is only available for Apple products, but will soon be coming to Android and Google.

He was joined in his criticism by leading children's society Barnardo's, which said the firm is targeting kids too young to use social media responsibly.



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