The following is a press release from Sen. Ed Markey’s office. He is one of two individuals elected to represent the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in Washington DC in the US Senate. He is a Democrat.
WASHINGTON DC – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, this week sent a letter to Facebook about a design flaw in the company’s Messenger Kids app, a product designed specifically for children 12 and under.
While Facebook has previously stated that the app only allows children to interact with users who have been approved by their parents, Facebook recently confirmed that a design flaw allowed children to circumvent those protections and chat with unapproved strangers.
“Children’s privacy and safety online should be Messenger Kids’ top priority,” write the Senators to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in their letter. “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.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
In the letter to Facebook, Senators Markey and Blumenthal ask questions that include:
- When did Facebook first become aware of the Messenger Kids design flaw that allowed children to engage in chats with unapproved users?
- How long has this design flaw existed within the Messenger Kids app?
- Are parents able to review the unapproved group chats their children were a part of or otherwise learn what information was shared in these interactions? If not, why not?
- Has Facebook initiated a review of the Messenger Kids app to identify other flaws that present similar children’s privacy concerns? If not, will Facebook commit to doing so?
- Does Facebook consider itself released from liability from any COPPA violations related to this design flaw because of its July 24, 2019 settlement with the FTC?
In December of 2017, Markey and Blumenthal queried Facebook about Messenger Kids and raised concerns about the app’s collection of children’s information.
Facebook’s response to that letter can be found HERE.