Despite its best efforts, Facebook’s Messenger Kids app has failed to protect the privacy of its underage users.
Due to what Facebook is calling a “technical error,” thousands of children were able to join group chats with users who had not been approved by their parents.
When Messenger Kids launched about two years ago, Facebook swore the app would be a safe and secure platform for children, ages 6-to-12 years old.
Breaking the news on Monday, The Verge obtained messages that Facebook had sent to parents, informing them their children’s privacy had been compromised.
“We found a technical error that allowed [child]’s friend to create a group chat with [child] and one or more of [friend]’s parent-approved friends,” Facebook is telling parents whose children have been impacted by the technical error. “We want you to know that we’ve turned off this group chat and are making sure that group chats like this won’t be allowed in the future.”
Facebook has yet to address the matter publicly, which has only added to the criticism surrounding the situation.
“Why should anyone trust this company on anything?” famed tech journalist Walt Mossberg tweeted on Monday.
Until the launch of Messenger Kids, Facebook had prohibited consumers under the age of 13 from using its most popular services, from its flagship app to Instagram.
While developing the app, Facebook said it consulted with thousands of parents and over a dozen expert advisors in the areas of child development, online safety and children’s media and technology.Once accounts are set up by parents, kids were only supposed to be able to start one-on-one or group video chats with parent-approved contacts.