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Facebook let a bunch of unauthorized users message your kids

Yikes…

facebook messenger kids
Image: Facebook

When you let your kids use kid-friendly messaging software that has granular permissions on who they can or can’t talk to, you’d be forgiven for thinking that your settings will be honored. That apparently wasn’t the case with Facebook’s Messenger Kids app, according to a report from The Verge.

The bug in the permissions structure let your kid’s friends (who you had approved) add your little darlings to group chats with strangers (who you definitely hadn’t). Yikes.

A bug in Facebook’s Messenger Kids app let unauthorized users chat with your kids

This glaring privacy issue is all down to how Facebook had permissions set up in the app. Normally, only users that you have approved can chat with your kids. What the “technical issue” let happen was a sidestep of those rules in the relatively new group chat function.

Normally, you have to explicitly approve anyone your child can talk to, so the glitch worked like this:

  • Your child receives group chat invite from an approved friend
  • Once entering the group chat, the Messenger app treated every other participant as approved
  • That meant that virtual strangers could be talking to your kid, making the privacy features of the app essentially useless

Facebook has shut down these group chats, sending out thousands of messages to parents about the snafu. It still hasn’t said anything publicly, which maybe isn’t all that surprising, considering the social network is already under heavy fire for privacy issues.

What do you think? Surprised by this news regarding Facebook and its privacy lapse regarding Messenger Kids? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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