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US senators raise privacy issues over Facebook's Messenger Kids app

U.S. Senators Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., have asked Facebook Inc. to provide "more transparency" about privacy issues related to a "serious design flaw" on its Messenger Kids app.

Facebook recently confirmed that the software bug allowed Messenger Kids users to join group chats with strangers, despite earlier saying the app will let children to interact only with contacts approved by their parents.

The senators asked the social networking giant how long the design flaw has been existing, whether the company has reviewed the app to determine other flaws, and whether parents are able to review the unapproved group chats involving their children. They expect Facebook to give its answers by Aug. 27.

"Children's privacy and safety online should be Messenger Kids' top priority ... a promise that it appears that Facebook has not fulfilled," the senators said in their letter to Facebook founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Earlier in 2018, several public advocacy groups filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission against Facebook over collecting kids' personal data on Messenger Kids without securing verifiable parental consent. The groups alleged that the practice violates the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.