Facebook isn't above the law.
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It was bad enough when Facebook released Messenger Kids, the first-ever social networking app for kids as young as 5. More than 100 experts and 20,000 parents and caregivers – including you! – spoke out about the risks the app poses to children's wellbeing. But now, we've made another troubling discovery.

Messenger Kids is breaking the most basic of children’s privacy laws. That’s why we filed an FTC complaint, signed by 17 child welfare and consumer advocacy groups, illustrating all the ways the app violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Our complaint documents how Facebook fails to get the “verifiable parental consent” needed before collecting kids’ sensitive personal information: Facebook never verifies that the adult approving the account is actually a child’s parent or guardian – any Facebook user over 18 can create and approve a child’s account, no proof required. (We were able to approve a Messenger Kids account by creating a brand-new, fake parent account; the whole process only took a few minutes.)

COPPA also requires that the names and contact information of any third parties with access to children’s data be listed in the Privacy Policy. We found that Facebook Messenger Kids breaks this part of the law, too: the privacy policy says kids’ data can be shared with unnamed third parties, as well as the “Facebook Family of Companies.” But they don’t name any of the dozens of companies in the Facebook “family,” which means parents have no ability to know who has access to their kids’ data or why. 

Facebook says they designed Messenger Kids to be a safe place for kids, but it’s simply not. You’ve already joined the chorus of voices calling on Facebook to shut down Messenger Kids altogether. Help us make it even louder by sharing our petition and encouraging friends and family to sign on.

As long as Messenger Kids is available for families to download, Facebook must follow the law. Given Facebook’s incredible power and huge reach, it is absolutely critical that the FTC does not allow Facebook to unilaterally dismantle privacy protections for kids.

Thanks for all you do,

David Monahan
Campaign Manager, CCFC

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