A bogus warning is spreading across Facebook, telling parents of young children to watch out for a rogue iPhone/iPad app that (the warning claims) steals children’s names, details of where they go to school, and even takes secret pictures of their faces.
The chain letter warning about the “Talking Angela” iOS app is being unwittingly spread by Facebook users, presumably with the thinking of “better safe than sorry” rather than “maybe I should just check the facts before forwarding this scare onto my friends”.
The truth is that “Talking Angela” appears to be entirely benign, and there are no obvious privacy concerns that differentiate it from thousands of other iPhone apps.
Indeed, the “Talking Angela” app is no different from other similar popular children’s apps from reputable iOS developer Out Fit 7 Ltd, including “Talking Tom Cat”, “Talking Ben the Dog” and “Talking Gina the Giraffe”.
It is an App and NOT a interactive website!
Here’s what a typical warning looks like when it is spread on Facebook:
“Talking Angela” is not a web site, but an iOS app available through iTunes that provides a cute interactive feature for youngsters: when children activate the app and respond to prompts to interact with it, Angela, a cat who inhabits an outdoor table at a Parisian cafe, responds to their gestures and mimics what they say back to them in her French-influenced stylings
Warnings that the Talking Angela app are prompting children to behave in ways that raise privacy concerns are unfounded — “Talking Angela” is just another entry in a series of similar harmless apps for kids created by the same developer:
A representative from Out Fit 7 also told us that:
We wish to emphasise that no personal data whatsoever is being collected from the users of our app Talking Angela, which is available as an iOS, Android and Facebook app.
The description clearly informs the user that one of the core functionalities of the app is chat, which requires two-way communication, where Angela (a chat bot, not a real person) answers with text and voice in English and talks to the user about a variety of subjects.
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 (no names, no numbers, no personal data). This fact is clearly disclosed within the description of the app.
The screenshots within the description clearly show that the app enables the user to take a picture of himself/herself and share those pictures to social media services like Facebook or Twitter. This is only done if the user wants to do it and the photos are not sent anywhere else.
TALKING ANGELA FAQS
Q: IS TALKING ANGELA SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
A: Yes. As a company that supports family-friendly entertainment we ensure we are protecting personal privacy and offering a safe environment for game-play. Upon initial download, users are given the option to play the Talking Angela app in child mode, a function specifically designed to safeguard the privacy of young players. Within child mode, the chat bot feature is disabled so Talking Angela can respond only to touch and repeat what she hears over the microphone, similar to other apps within the Talking Tom and Friends series. Child mode can be selected at any point within the app’s settings.
If child mode is not selected, chat bot will be enabled and Talking Angela will engage in two-way communication with the user. This involves Talking Angela asking the user questions – topics of which are defined in the app description on all app stores.
Q: DOES TALKING ANGELA ASK PERSONAL QUESTIONS?
A: When not operating in child mode, Talking Angela asks users their name and age. The reason for this is to provide the best possible experience and optimize the app’s content. Although all topics are family-friendly, the Talking Angela app is able to determine the most suitable topics of conversation according to a user’s age. For example, if the user is a child, the chat bot will discuss familiar topics such as school.
This information will be visible to Outfit7 only on an aggregated level. This means that we will be able to see how many users of each age we have, but will not be able to determine the name and age of a particular user.
Q: DOES TALKING ANGELA STORE PHOTOS OF YOU?
A: No. The app uses gesture recognition technology through the use of a front camera. This enables Talking Angela to recognize face gestures, which enhances users’ interaction with the app. This function does not take photos or videos of the user and no personal data is shared with third parties.
* An older version of the app enables users to take their photos by pressing the heart button in the app. Any photos taken are not stored locally on the device and are not sent anywhere.
Q: DOES THE TALKING ANGELA APP COLLECT PERSONAL DATA?
Q: WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION ON TALKING ANGELA?
A: A true a clear description of the app can be found on all app stores so customers can read about Talking Angela and its core functionalities before downloading on iOS, Android or interacting on Facebook.