Facebook, for the first time, introduces kids to the social world by rolling out a privacy-focused app “Messenger Kids” that will be managed by parents.
The app aims to neutralize child predator threats that have already infected the rival social media platform Snapchat.
As per Federal laws, children under the age of 13 cannot acquire a Facebook account. However, the social media giant rolled out an app today that would be entirely focused on children but will be managed by their parents. Parents would download the app on their child’s tablet or phone, connect it with their own Facebook account and create a profile for their kids.
The “Messenger Kids” will allow kids to text or video chat with their contacts, who would be approved by their parents.
“We’ve been working closely with the FTC so we’re lockstep with them. ‘This works’, they said,” said Facebook product management director Loren Cheng.
“In other apps, they can contact anyone they want or be contacted by anyone,” said David Marcus, Facebook’s head of Messenger.
The app will evidently limit the major child threats that circulate the social media platforms including explicit content, ads and pedophilic approaches.
“There are no ads in Messenger Kids and your child’s information isn’t used for ads. It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases,” Facebook wrote on a blog.
According to the company, the app is designed to be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protect Act (COPPA). The COPPA is the main reason behind the rule that inhibits children under 13 from signing-in social services.
Special proactive detection safety filters prevent kids from sharing violence, nudity or sexual content. A reporting interface allows them to flag anything sensitive to a dedicated support team. Parents will immediately be notified if their kids report a piece of objectionable content.
Facebook sifted Giphy to create a kid-friendly version of the GIF-sharing engine. A special team was hired by Facebook to create some creative features for kids including augmented reality face filters and crayon-style stickers.
The location sharing and payment features have been eliminated from the app. Moreover, for privacy protection, children’s profiles cannot be found on search, meaning that if a child wants to connect with their friend, their parents must friend that kid’s parents first, and then will be able to approve that child as a contact for their own kid.
The app is currently available for iOS, but only in the U.S. However, Facebook says that it plans to expand it beyond iOS to the Google Play Store and Amazon App Store.
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