Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 11.14.00 AMConcerned parents are once again being duped by an Internet hoax regarding a harmless app for children – The Talking Angela app. Angela is a little French kitty that repeats what children say into the phone and interacts with children when they tap at the screen. It caused a panic on Facebook last year – and the panic has resurfaced:

WARNING FOR TO ALL PARENTS WITH CHILDREN THAT HAVE ANY ELECTRONIC DEVICES, EX: IPOD,TABLETS ETC …. THERE IS A SITE CALLED TALKING ANGELA, THIS SITE ASKS KIDS QUESTIONS LIKE: THERE NAMES, WHERE THEY GO TO SCHOOL AND ALSO TAKE PICTURES OF THEIR FACES BY PUSHING A HEART ON THE BOTTOM LEFT CORNER WITHOUT ANY NOTICES. PLEASE CHECK YOUR CHILDREN’S IPODS AND ALL TO MAKE SURE THEY DO NOT HAVE THIS APP !!! PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON TO YOUR FRIENDS

ATTENTION PARENTS & GRANDPARENTS! My future daughter-in-law just received this warning from a friend on her page. Do not let your child download the Talking Angela app! It is very creepy! Gracie downloaded it without asking to her kindle fire because it was free and a really cute cat. She brought it to me to answer the question it asked. I immediately noticed it had activated the camera. It had already asked her name, age, and knew she was in the living room! I immediately deleted it!

 

Snopes has since debunked these rumors. The app makers explain that the ”data collected by the app from the user is not shared with anyone and is actually sent to Out Fit7 only in the form of an anonymized data log,”  and that the app simply uses the phone’s microphone function to repeat what is said; it’s a chat bot. There is also a camera function that was part of the panic, but the app simply takes photographs and offers the option of posting to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media – much like Instagram and many other photo apps. The photos are not sent anywhere else. I’m confused as to why an app like this has to mine data at all – but I don’t know enough about app development to understand that.

The Guardian explains there is a “child mode” that the user can initiate which disables the “text chat” function that users were most concerned about. The concern that Angela asks kids for their names, ages and engages in banter via text is an option that can only be utilized if “child mode” is off. The problem is, turning child mode on and off is a simple toggle of screen switch that can easily be manipulated by a child.

So no, the app was not created by pedophiles to hunt your children. But if there is ever any concern over the safety of an app – either monitor your child very closely or don’t let them use it. I find it strange that an app that was clearly created for children has a social media-linking component at all. I can’t see someone old enough to be on social media even wanting to use this thing.

(photo: YouTube)