Saturday, February 17, 2018
Facebook is forging ahead with its messaging app for kids, despite child experts who have pressed the company to shut it down and others who question Facebook’s financial support of some advisers who approved of the app.
Messenger Kids lets children under 13 chat with friends and family. It displays no ads and lets parents approve who their children message. But critics say it serves to lure kids into harmful social media use and to hook young people on Facebook as it tries to compete with Snapchat or its own Instagram app. They say kids shouldn’t be on such apps at all.
“It is disturbing that Facebook, in the face of widespread concern, is aggressively marketing Messenger Kids to even more children,” the Campaign For a Commercial-Free Childhood said in a statement this week.
Messenger Kids launched on iOS to lukewarm reception in December. It arrived on Amazon devices in January and on Android on Wednesday. Throughout, Facebook has touted a team of advisers, academics and families who helped shape the app in the year before it launched.
But a Wired report this week pointed out that more than half of this safety advisory board had financial ties to the company. Facebook confirmed this and said it hasn’t hidden donations to these individuals and groups – although it hasn’t publicized them, either.
A few weeks after Messenger Kids launched, nearly 100 outside experts banded together to urge Facebook to shut down the app, which it has not done.