My, how the times have changed. Facebook ostensibly started out as a social network for college kids before becoming THE place to be for, well, everyone. Finally, Zuckerburg and his team of developers are throwing in the towel and embracing their role as the most prominent social media empire for people of all ages. Their latest release comes to the public by way of “Messenger Kids”. Messenger Kids is an under-13-year-old Facebook messaging application which requires parental approval to register and operate. This is the first time that Facebook has ever catered explicitly to such a young crowd and it might be part of a larger shift in the company’s culture.
The focus of Messenger Kids is to give children a safe place to interact with people their own age. This is a marked departure from the almost lawless way that Snapchat or programs like WhatsApp operate. Ostensibly, Messenger Kids is about giving children the ability to communicate in the constantly evolving digital age through the most popular social platform on the web. More importantly, it is giving these children a safe place away from potential predators. The application can be downloaded onto mobile tablets or phones but parents must register the application, create the profile and manually approve each and every friend addition.
Once the application has been activated, children will be able to text and video chat with their approved friends in a fluid interface that is available on the iOS and Android (eventually) stores. This profile is entirely separate from the regular Facebook account that still requires users to be of age. Loren Cheng, the product management director at Facebook says, “We’ve been working closely with the FTC so we’re lockstep with them.” Cheng is referring to the Federal Trade Commission in regards to how the safety of the network will be monitored to ensure that Facebook is doing everything possible to keep their young users safe.
There are additional safety measures within the Messenger Kids application that should further relieve parents. Special detective filters prevent nudity, violence, or any other harsh or sexual language from being shared. A responsive support team makes up the backbone of the application and they’ll be relied upon to ensure that everything remains up to snuff. In terms of a comparison to the regular Messenger app, Messenger Kids has a kid-friendly Giphy as well as face masking filters.