Facebook has decided to offer the world something that nobody asked for: a messaging app for 6-year-olds.
The tech behemoth on Monday unveiled Messenger Kids, a version of its standalone Messenger app that has been designed specifically for users under 13. Messenger Kids is replete with supposedly fun and stimulating features like facial-recognition filters and augmented reality, BuzzFeed News reports, and Facebook claims that the new app will offer children a "safe zone" to communicate with friends and parents.
The company is, of course, adamant that this app is totally not a cynical attempt at getting kids hooked on social media. "The goal is not to get kids onto Facebook," David Marcus, the head of Messenger, told BuzzFeed News.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Messenger Kids works on iOS platforms. And parents can rest easy, Facebook assures, because the company has implemented measures that give adults control over how their children use the platform. Parents create and control their children's accounts and contacts, meaning kids can only message with users their parents have approved, and parents are additionally notified when their children report users for bullying. Facebook also said that it has filtering software and human moderators scouring the platform for inappropriate content that they will then remove.
Still, if you're a little skeptical of how all this sounds, you're probably not alone. Facebook has a had a rough year that has eroded user trust — its plan for combating revenge porn was mocked and criticized, the platform allowed the spread of misinformation about the Las Vegas mass shooting, and there's also the whole issue of 126 million users being exposed to intentionally inflammatory political content promoted by Russian-linked accounts during the 2016 election.
Create an account with the same email registered to your subscription to unlock access.