Jeremy Hunt attacks Facebook over app aimed at children

Facebook launches parent-controlled Messenger app for kids

Facebook rolled out Monday a version of its popular Messenger app for kids under 13. The Messenger account must be set up by a parent, and parents will have to give approval for anyone trying to communicate with their children.

Facebook says it won't automatically move users to the regular Messenger or to Facebook when they get old enough.

The Health Secretary said Facebook should instead be focused on enforcing its rule banning children aged under 13 from being members at all. When a child reports content or another account, Facebook says it will also notify a parent.

"Also, not all parents will have the confidence and knowledge to manage this app safely".

Common Sense Media, a United States non-profit "dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families", has looked extensively at the proliferation of social media use among young children. On Snapchat, where ephemerality can cover evidence of inappropriate contact, or Musical.ly, where kids dance provocatively in front of huge audiences, dangers mount and parents are often clueless. "We want to create technologies that benefit, rather than harm or are merely neutral on the lives of children". When we tried to send a GIF from the Messenger app to a kid profile, we received the following error message: "GIFs can't be sent to Messenger Kids accounts".

"I think this is the solution because it allows the parents to approve whoever he talks to and to have that kind of control, I think it solves a lot of the issues with safety", one mom said. Messenger Kids is designed as a legal way for kids to participate. It will be linked to an adults' Facebook account. "People said that it would be ideal for Facebook to clarify their policies from the beginning so that it would be perfectly clear what parents are signing up for".

Facebook is launching an app for children - and not everyone is happy about it. He'd spent the past few years on the "tough experiences" team that handles fake accounts, violent content, sexual exploitation, self-harm and counter-terrorism. Facebook built a whole portal at MessengerKids.com with more information for parents. Still, it doesn't have the best track record on unintended consequences, and if it screws this up, the damage and backlash will be massive.

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.

The social network has not commented on Mr Hunt's tweet.

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