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Is this Facebook flaw putting your kids at risk?

Kids at risk after Facebook 'Messenger Kids' glitch. Source: Getty

A Facebook design flaw has let thousands of kids join chats with users who weren’t authorised by parents prior.

The flaw goes directly against the entire premise of the Facebook’s under-13s app, Messenger Kids, which is to allow parents to authorise who their children speak to on the app.

For the past week, Facebook has been closing down those group chats, and alerting thousands of users, but The Verge reported no official public statement had been made disclosing the issue.

The alert to parents said this;

“Hi [PARENT], We found a technical error that allowed [CHILD]’s friend [FRIEND] to create a group chat with [CHILD] and one or more of [FRIEND]’s parent-approved friends.”

“We want you to know that we’ve turned off this group chat and are making sure that group chats like this won’t be allowed in the future.”

“If you have questions about Messenger Kids and online safety, please visit our Help Center and Messenger Kids parental controls. We’d also appreciate your feedback.”

A Facebook representative told The Verge the alert was legitimate.

How did the Facebook glitch happen?

In a standard one-on-one chat, children can only initiate conversations with users who have been pre-approved by the child’s parents.

But, in a group chat, that can get a little more complicated.

Whoever launches the group can invite any user who was authorised to chat with them, even if that user wasn’t authorised to chat with others in the group - which meant kids were left in chats with unauthorised users.

The issue follows Facebook’s part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which saw them cop a US$5 billion fine.

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