Facebook has announced that it has launched a new messenger app for kids under the age of 13 that is controlled by parents that will allow children to send texts, videos, photos, and partake in other digital activities. While the app is advertised as helping protect the privacy and security of kids, parents shouldn’t be fooled and should not trust this new platform.
Facebook’s history demonstrates it just can’t be trusted with our personal information; especially when it comes to our kids’ data. For example, Facebook lobbies state and federal lawmakers and regulators to weaken our digital privacy laws so it can better utilize our kids personal information for profit. I watched Facebook’s lobbyists gut the Maryland Student Data Protection Act of 2015 so the company would be able to collect more personal data about our kids in school to sell to data brokers, insurance companies, colleges, employers, etc.
Additionally, Facebook planned to allow Admiral Insurance (which has a U.S. subsidiary: Elephant Auto Insurance) to utilize teens’ private Facebook activity to price insurance polices; only after a swift public backlash did the company back down. Facebook was also caught helping advertisers target teens who had emotional issues. These actions followed Facebook manipulating users’ emotions for science in 2014.
What is even more troubling is that Facebook has lobbied for years to ensure that they don’t have to be accountable and transparent when it comes to the political ads that target their users. Since at least 2010, Facebook has spent a tremendous amount of money on lobbying so digital ads are not treated in the same manner as television, print, and radio ads. Their position helped create the situation that allowed Russian backed ads to manipulate U.S. voters during the 2016 U.S. election.
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zukerberg is one of the biggest hypocrites in the world because his actions demonstrate that he believes his kids and family deserve privacy but not his users. For example, several years ago, he bought four of his neighbors’ homes so his family could have more privacy while intentionally misleading European regulators about the privacy practices of WhatsApp which shares data with Facebook (I don’t trust WhatsApp).
Interestingly, after the birth of his second child earlier this year, Zukerberg provided the impression that his kids should limit their screen time. In contrast, Facebook is encouraging everyone else’ kids to become screen dependent and it is intentionally opaque when it comes to whom it sells your personal Facebook data to and how the information is utilized.
While Facebook is claiming the data they are collecting about kids in this app won’t be used for advertising, it doesn’t promise not to use the data to build profiles on our kids and their families that will later be utilized against them in the future by insurance companies, employers, colleges, law enforcement, governments, etc.
The bottom line is that if parents want to protect their children they should JUST SAY NO to Facebook’s new app for kids.