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Facebook Fails to Allay Privacy Fears on Messenger Kids

Instead, the social media giant said it would focus more on its Messenger Kids service

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Corporate, America, Climate Change
FILE - In this April 30, 2019, file photo, Facebook stickers are laid out on a table at F8, Facebook's developer conference in San Jose, Calif. The Boston-based renewable energy developer Longroad Energy announced in May that Facebook is building a… VOA

Facebook is not doing enough to safeguard children on its Messenger Kids app and their privacy is at risk, US Democratic Senators have stressed.

Responding to Facebook’s reply to their earlier letter, Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said that Facebook has to do a lot better to protect kids on its Messenger Kids platform, The Verge reported on Wednesday.

“Facebook’s response gives little reassurance to parents that Messenger Kids is a safe place for children today,” the Senators said.

“We are particularly disappointed that Facebook did not commit to undertaking a comprehensive review of Messenger Kids to identify additional bugs or privacy issues,” they added.

Facebook in July admitted a design flaw in its Messenger Kids Service that exposed thousands of children on group chats with unauthorised users.

The concerned Senators shot a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on August 6, asking him to explain what exactly is happening.

“Children’s privacy and safety online should be Messenger Kids’ top priority. 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,” they wrote.

In a reply on Wednesday, Facebook Public Policy Vice President Kevin Martin said: “We believe… that Messenger Kids complies with COPPA (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) and we are committed to continually improving it to ensure that we not only comply with COPPA but also meet and exceed the high standards of parents and families.”

facebook, instant games
FILE – Attendees walk past a Facebook logo during Facebook Inc’s F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, United States. VOA

However, the Facebook reply failed to satisfy the Senators.

“If Facebook wants children and parents’ trust, it has to do a lot better than this. That means dropping Facebook’s current whack-a-mole method and taking a proactive approach that makes privacy and security the platform’s number one priority –particularly for kids,” the Senators noted.

The social networking platform introduced Messenger Kids in 2017 and is aimed at kids under 13 years of age.

Messenger Kids is a video chat and messaging app designed for kids to communicate with family and close friends that parents or caregivers approve.

Parents set up and manage their child’s Messenger Kids account through their own Facebook account.

Also Read: Tech Giant Apple Tweaks Siri to Protect Users’ Privacy

Facing the flak from lawmakers and experts, Facebook in February this year decided not to build a new app called “LOL” to let children share and post humorous meme content.

Instead, the social media giant said it would focus more on its Messenger Kids service. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook Loses its Place in Glassdoor’s ‘Best Places to Work’ List

The Top-100 list by Glassdoor is for large organisations or those with at least 1,000 employees. It bases its rankings on eight factors, including work/life balance, compensation and benefits and senior management, among others

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

Mired in several controversies amid break-up calls from the US lawmakers, Facebook has once again slipped off Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” list for a second year in a row.

Facebook dropped to 23rd best place to work, falling 16 spots from last year’s position, and its award score fell from a 4.5 to 4.4 out of a perfect 5, according to the annual listing by the leading job website.

The top three spots are occupied by leading growth platform HubSpot, management consultancy firm Bain & Company and market leader in electronic signatures DocuSign, respectively.

Among the tech companies, Google is at 11th spot, LinkedIn at 12th, Microsoft at 21st, Salesforce at 34th, VMware at 36th, Adobe at 39th, Cisco at 77th, Accenture at 83th and Apple at 84th (the Cupertino-based iPhone maker slipped 13 spots from the last year’s list).

Amazon once again failed to enter the list of 100.

For Facebook, 2019 has been bad on the diplomatic front. Several US Senators have called for breaking up the social network amid repeated data breaches and privacy violations on the platform.

Facebook
Facebook has failed to comply with the subpoenas for more information related to the ongoing privacy investigation into its alleged privacy violations and Cambridge Analytica, the media has reported. Pixabay

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris has stressed that authorities should take a serious look at breaking up Facebook as the social network platform is a “utility that has gone unregulated”.

Another Democratic 2020 candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren has also stressed upon the possibility of breaking up Facebook.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, however, rejected these calls, saying the size of the social media giant was actually a benefit to its users and the security of the democratic process.

Zuckerberg has promised his employees to “fight and win” if Democratic presidential hopeful Warren wins the 2020 election and moves forward with her stated plan to break up the big US tech firms.

Also Read: Here’s What India’s Privacy Bill Requires from Social Media Firms

The company in July agreed to pay record-breaking $5 billion to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as fine for users’ privacy violations in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal involving millions of users.

The US FTC is also investigating Facebook for potential monopolistic practices.

The Top-100 list by Glassdoor is for large organisations or those with at least 1,000 employees. It bases its rankings on eight factors, including work/life balance, compensation and benefits and senior management, among others. (IANS)