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News18 » Tech
1-min read

Facebook Messenger Kids App Allowed Children to Join Group Chats with Random People

The social media giant is now facing a nine-question-long initial investigation by US senators, in response to the disclosure that its Messenger Kids app had a major flaw that compromised safety of children.


Updated:August 7, 2019, 10:57 PM IST
Facebook Messenger Kids App Allowed Children to Join Group Chats with Random People
Representative image. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Facebook finds itself in hot waters yet again, after receiving a nine-questions-long inquiry by two United States senators regarding a critical privacy and safety blunder in the Facebook Messenger Kids app. As disclosed by the platform last month, the Messenger Kids app had a flaw in its coding, which allowed its users, all below the age 12, to enter group chats with random individuals who were not approved by their parents.

The flaw, which brings to light how a tiny bug in the code of a programme can lead to a potentially critical safety threat. US senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut sent a lengthy inquiry regarding this matter to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg. The inquiry, as has been revealed by Cnet, aims to understand for how long did Facebook have knowledge of the flaw, and how much time did it subsequently take in order to patch the flaw. The aim of this inquiry is to understand whether Facebook has been lackadaisical in approaching the sensitive issue of children's safety online, which may have been compromised significantly because of this flaw.

Incidentally, several child safety activists have been long term advocates against the Messenger Kids app, which they have denounced as being detrimental to the laws governing child safety on the internet. Facebook has so far not issued a statement on the latest inquiry, but have acknowledged receipt of the questionnaire from the senators. Given the kind of privacy and data surveillance gaffe that the social media platform has fallen into lately, this may well become a tremendously sensitive issue — one that Zuckerberg will need to tread carefully going forward.

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