Facebook is found to have aggressively pursued routes to encourage children to use its Messenger Kids app while on play dates in a scathing series of internal documents published by the Wall Street Journal. According to the docs, Facebook was worried by its results that when children are together, they verbally speak and connect with one another rather than using their phones, which, hello, they’re kids. Unfortunately, Facebook perceived this natural occurrence as a challenge and began researching ways to “use play dates to generate word of mouth/growth.” This is the actual phrase. According to the Wall Street Journal:
Internal Facebook documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show the company formed a team to study preteens, set a three-year goal to create more products for them and commissioned strategy papers about the long-term business opportunities presented by these potential users. In one presentation, it contemplated whether there might be a way to engage children during play dates.
“Why do we care about tweens?” said one document from 2020. “They are a valuable but untapped audience.”
Tweens are defined as children aged 10 to 12, therefore we’re talking about primary school pupils that Facebook aims to convert into power users who spend their time staring at their phones instead of laughing and playing with their pals. There’s a real tobacco boss vibe going on here.
The WSJ article follows Facebook’s decision to put its idea for “Instagram Kids” on hold in the wake of widespread criticism. Learning that the software firm has been attempting to “leverage play dates” into high vectors of user growth [or some other corporate jargon] isn’t likely to improve matters. It’s what you’d call a hunch.
(Via Wall Street Journal)