Facebook’s ‘Messenger Kids’ Will Allow Under-13s Chat With Parents’ Approval

Facebook came up with a privacy-focused app for kids under 13 that will keep them safe from child predator threats

The app is currently available on iOS in the U.S. and it allows parents to dowload it on their child’s phone or tablet, create a profile and approve friends and family with whom their kids can text and video chat from the main Messenger app.

There is no need for a Facebook account, nor for a phone number; even so, they can communicate with other kids who have the app on their device.

“We’ve been working closely with the FTC so we’re lockstep with them. ‘This works’, they said,” Facebook product management director Loren Cheng tells me. “In other apps, they can contact anyone they want or be contacted by anyone,” Facebook’s head of Messenger David Marcus notes.

Even more, there are special proactive detection safety filters that prevent children from sharing nudity, sexual content or violence. At the same time, there is a dedicated support team that will quickly respond to any reported or flagged content.

Moreover, Facebook took another step and sifted Giphy to build a kid-friendly version of the GIF-sharing engine. Now, children will be able to play with augmented reality masks and stickers, making even the calls with grandma more fun.

The company has no intention of monteizing Messenger Kids, migrating them to real accounts when they turn 13 or collecting data, so that it complies with Children’s Online Privacy Protections Act law. However, the app may be a base that could turn them into lifelong Facebook users.

“When you think about things at scale that we do to get people to care more about Messenger, this is one that addresses a real need for parents,” says Facebook’s head of Messenger David Marcus. “But the side effect will be that they use Messenger more and create family groups.”