Facebook’s controversial Messenger Kids is rolling out to Canada and Peru

Facebook is rolling out Messenger Kids, its controversial chat app for those under 13, to countries outside of the US, as reported by CNET. The app has been widely criticized by advocacy groups that claim it is “harmful to children and teens.” Messenger Kids will be coming to Peru and Canada, and, for the first time, it will also be available in Spanish and French.

Introduced last December, Messenger Kids allows parents to manage a child’s profile through their Facebook account and have control over who the child can contact. It contains no ads or in-app purchases, and it does not require a child use their real name. It skews toward letting kids video and text chat while offering kid-appropriate stickers, masks, and filters to decorate their content.

Although Facebook says the app is designed to be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA), there has been pressure from child development experts, health advocacy groups, educators, parents, and more, all calling for Facebook to shut the app down. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood voiced concerns in an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg earlier this year, saying that “young children are simply not ready to have social media accounts,” and are “not old enough to navigate the complexities of online relationships.”

In addition to the international expansion, Facebook also made some tweaks to Messenger Kids. Now, two parents can manage a child’s account, instead of one.

The app also now presents a “pledge” for families that is seen when parents set up the account for their child. The pledge’s four points are “Be Kind,” “Be Respectful,” “Be Safe,” and “Have Fun,” and are supposed to be “guiding principles between parents and kids that encourage the responsible use of Messenger Kids.” The idea is that parents will have a discussion with their child about these tenets before access is handed over.

Although Messenger Kids seemingly follows proper protocols — and there are certainly good uses for it, such as a child being able to chat with family members — many kids already have access to cellphones that can accomplish those connection needs. Messenger Kids appears to be grooming the next generation of Facebook users, and that may be concerning for some parents.

Comments

If anything, I’m gonna keep my kids off Facebook. Not gonna prostitute my child’s conversations and data.

I’m gonna keep my kids off Facebook

Litterally what this thing is for. It’s a safe, protected way for kids to communicate without tracking or advertising.

Creating this app is probably the only thoroughly decent thing Facebook has ever done.

I mean, wouldn’t they be better off without making an account there? Seems like they’d be targets.

It’s not a Facebook account, it’s a messaging service.

Right, but couldn’t anyone make an account there to target children?

No. Parents must approve new contacts.

This is targeted to pull kids on Facebook early. Like happy meals to get kids young and make them trust Facebook.

And if you trust in Facebooks word on privacy you are lost my friend.

It’s more a tool for parents, not kids.

Are you part of Facebook’s PR team? Because it sure sounds like it.

PR team is more for spinning bad ideas.

Admitting a good product is good is hardly PR.

Ignorance fueled controversy. People just see the words Facebook and children and lose their minds. The name Facebook isn’t even in the app title. Nor is it social media. It’s texting, in a safe, private environment with contacts approved by parents, and if they ever do anything to violate COPPA they would get royally fucked.

It’s texting, in a safe, private environment

Lol, it’s still under Facebook, so it ain’t "safe" or "private" as you think.

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