David Marcus defends Facebook’s Messenger Kids platform

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David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of Messaging Products, responded to the backlash against Messenger Kids when he spoke at the Upfront Summit in Los Angeles on Thursday.

“Families will be better off because it exists,” said Marcus. “I firmly believe that it is a good product.”

Messenger Kids launched in December, targeting kids aged 6 to 12. The app has faced widespread criticism for encouraging young people to join social media at a young age, which some claim is a violation of COPPA regulations. But Marcus insisted that Facebook’s children’s product does not qualify as social media in the way that Snapchat does.

The idea is to make it easier for families to incorporate younger siblings into group chats, Marcus explained.

“My daughter uses it on a daily basis now,” said Marcus. “It has enabled me to be more in touch with her.”

He additionally claimed that part of the skepticism is because it’s getting harder for Facebook to launch products with “global enthusiasm,” but that the team isn’t going to let that dictate its strategy.

Marcus also talked about how he wants Messenger’s main app to avoid becoming like email. “The last thing I want is to be the guy who recreated email.” He said that while customers can interact with brands over Messenger, the consumers are the ones initiating the communication on his platform.

He was further optimistic that people would increasingly use Messenger for peer-to-peer transactions, as an alternative to Venmo or Square Cash. “Payments is really at home in a conversational environment,” said Marcus.

When it comes to Facebook’s main app, Marcus talked about banning cryptocurrency ads because too many of them are scams. Marcus, however, sits on the board of bitcoin platform Coinbase.

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