Is Facebook into kids’ mind control now?

December 5, 2017 1:32 pm

Parents nowadays are very careful about what their kids are exposed to at school, in their daily activities and mostly on social media.

They want to make sure that no one is controlling their thoughts in any way, shape or form.

This may now be impossible.

On December 5, Facebook released a new kids’ messenger service for kids under the age of 13.

On the surface, the new move may be aimed at beating the competition with other social media apps but this does not deny the fact that it is a unprecedented step.

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The new app

The new app allows users under the age of 13 to send texts, videos and photos with an ability to draw on the pictures they send and add stickers, but requiring parental permission to sign up for the app and if two children want to be friends with each other, each will have to get his parents’ approval to initiate contact.

Facebook said that Messenger Kids will have no ads. It will also not use data from Messenger Kids for Facebook ads, as reported by the Washington Post.

But why would Facebook launch such an app then?

 Hidden benefits

The Washington Post reveals that as technology is moving deeper into the home and many firms looking for more growth, children have become a more attractive market.

“It’s a very lucrative market; companies want to capture these people, these children, so they can keep them throughout their lives,” the Washington Post quoted Kathryn Montgomery, a communications professor at American University as saying.

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Meanwhile Reuters said that Facebook normally requires users to be at least 13 years old but “the new app gives it a chance to win brand loyalty from younger children at a time when it faces competition for teenagers from other social media platforms such as Snapchat.”

According to Cnet, a tech reviews platform, as kids get increasingly comfortable with technology, the new app is a way for Facebook to get users into its ecosystem at an earlier age especially when rivals like Snap enjoy popularity with young people.

Also, Tech Crunch, another tech platform, says the app could accustom kids to become lifelong Facebook users, and lock their families deeply into the platform where they’ll see ads.

But why is messenger that important for Facebook?

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 Messenger is forced

This is how the Guardian explains it: “The real reason that Facebook is pushing chat into its Messenger is to create another platform or silo from which Facebook can access you as a user. This might seem an odd decision on the surface, but viewed through the lens of a company that wants to spread its tendrils as far and wide as possible, it makes sense.”

The Guardian said that this is the same reason why Facebook bought WhatsApp and instagram as as a way to address users who never grew an interest in Facebook, while adding a separate photo-sharing social network that is more tightly integrated with Facebook.

Aren’t there any other apps out there for kids?

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Other apps

Quartz, a technology and economy news platform, explains that Lego has introduced this year a social network for under 13 which does not allow kids to upload human photos or write inappropriate comments.

It says: “LegoLife, as the network is called, has some Instagram-like features, including a newsfeed, profiles and the ability for kids to share pictures of their own Lego creations. But there are ample restrictions, including a ban on real-life photos and free-form commenting. Parents have to approve the sign up, which requires an email verification.”

As for Family Link, it allows parents to create Google account for children and do things like manage apps, keep an eye on screen time and a set a bedtime for the child’s device.

“Google’s Family Link app lets parents hand down their old Android gadgets to their kids without worrying about what they could end up downloading from the Play Store or finding online,” as explained by the Verge, a technology reviews platform.



Dana Halawi
By Dana Halawi
Senior Journalist
Dana Halawi has over seven years of experience in Journalism with articles published in multiple magazines and a newspaper in Lebanon. She specialized in Banking and Finance at the Lebanese American University and has a Master’s degree in International Affairs.