Weeks after US senators sought more transparency from the Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg regarding the Facebook Messenger Kids, Facebook has for the first time acknowledged the flaws in the app.
Facebook Vice President Kevin Martin in his response to democratic senators Edward J Markey and Richard Blumenthal who wrote the letter to Zuckerberg earlier this month said that the company was in contact with the Federal Trade Commission over a variety of issues concerning the social media giant including the Facebook Messenger Kids app.
“We are in regular contact with the FTC on many issues and products, including Messenger Kids,” Martin wrote in the letter seen by Reuters. He described the flaw in the Messenger Kids app a “technical error”.
“Based on our review, we have determined that the technical error you have inquired above arose in October 2018. The fix we implemented is designed to prevent the issue from happening again,” the Facebook vice president added in the letter.
The two senators expressed their disappointment over Facebook’s approach towards the matter. “We are particularly disappointed that Facebook did not commit to undertaking a comprehensive review of Messenger Kids to identify additional bugs or privacy issues,” the US senators said in response to the letter from Facebook.
To give you a brief about the matter: The Verge in a report dating back to July 2019 noted that Facebook’s Messenger Kids app had a critical flaw that enabled the kids to talk to people in groups who had not been approved by their parents. The Messenger Kids app requires parents to permit kids to talk to people. However, permissions in case of group chats are much more complicated. And so a flaw in the Messenger Kids app allowed children in a group to chat with people who had not been approved by their parents.
The US senators earlier this month wrote a letter to Zuckerberg seeking details as to what the company was doing to ensure that the app meets the requirements of the law and expectations of the parents. “Your company has a responsibility to meet its promise to parents that children are not exposed to unapproved contacts, a promise that it appears that Facebook has not fulfilled,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to the Facebook CEO.