Just days after the FTC slammed a hefty $5 billion fine on Facebook, another security flaw is making the news. Facebook has unveiled a bug in it’s Messenger Kids app which allowed children to talk to unauthorized users when chatting in a group.
Facebook Messenger Kids App Bug
The Messenger Kids app was developed to prevent children from being able to talk to people who weren’t authorized by their parents. As a precautionary measure, Facebook is closing down a number of group chats since the past week. An alert is also sent to the parents who are still unaware of the loophole.
The alert warning the parents is as follows:
Hi [PARENT], We found a technical error that allowed [CHILD]’s friend [FRIEND] to create a group chat with [CHILD] and one or more of [FRIEND]’s parent-approved friends. We want you to know that we’ve turned off this group chat and are making sure that group chats like this won’t be allowed in the future. If you have questions about Messenger Kids and online safety, please visit our Help Center and Messenger Kids parental controls. We’d also appreciate your feedback.
When Fox News contacted a Facebook spokesperson about the tech giant’s latest blunder, he said:
We recently notified some parents of Messenger Kids account users about a technical error that we detected affecting a small number of group chats. We turned off the affected chats and provided parents with additional resources on Messenger Kids and online safety.
How the bug worked
Messenger for Kids was launched way back in December of 2017 and it’s still unclear how much time has passed since the inception of the bug.
According to The Verge, if a child tried to contact a single person, he/she would not be able to message any unauthorized user. However, if a user starts a group chat and invited people who are authorized to him/her, then the invited person could talk to the children even if he was not in their authorized list.
This resulted in thousands of children being able to chat with complete strangers. Privacy advocates are continually pursuing the company for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.