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Messenger Kids is a messaging app and platform developed by Facebook in December 2017. The platform is designed for a young audience as an safer alternative to the Facebook Messenger platform. User can register without phone numbers, but only with their first and last names only. It was initially launched for iPad tablets with the iOS operating system in the United States only, though later support for iPhone and Android devices was added and it was rolled out in Canada, Peru, and Mexico.
|Initial release||December 4, 2017|
|Operating system||Android, iOS|
Parents have oversight and control, with requirements about identity verification and approval of contacts. There are no in-app purchases nor advertisements, and thus also no data collection for advertising purposes, children's accounts are not visible in search on Facebook, and the child's account does not automatically migrate to a full Facebook account once the child turns 13 years old (the minimum age for Facebook registration). It features augmented reality filters and lenses, along with games and educational content.
On December 4, 2017, Facebook announced "Messenger Kids", a new app for children under 13 years of age. At its announcement, Facebook told the media that Messenger Kids was significantly different from the standard version, with no advertisements, in-app purchases or data collection, and with strict policies in place. Parents or guardians must specifically download the app onto their child's device, log in with their account to verify their identity and create a unique Messenger Kids-account for their child. After doing so, parents have control over who their child talks to (with parents needing to approve new contacts).
Additionally, Messenger Kids-accounts are not visible in search on Facebook; safety filters aim to proactively prevent children from sharing nudity, sexual content, or violence; and a dedicated, human support team works to tackle abuse complaints. The app was certified by the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). However, the app received significant criticism and concern, primarily due to it collecting the contents of messages and photos sent by minors, as well as for trying to get people hooked into the Facebook experience at a very young age. UK's Secretary of Health Jeremy Hunt publicly criticized the initiative, tweeting that the company should "stay away from my kids" and "Facebook told me they would come back with ideas to PREVENT underage use of their product, but instead they are actively targeting younger children".
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