Does an app called "Talking Angela" ask kids personal questions and take pictures of their faces? No, that's not true: This claim is resurfacing after having been debunked as far back as 2014. The app-based uses an animated cat to mimic the user's speech and gestures and game does not ask children questions and does not take photos of the user's face. In 2014 it had a text-chat version for adults that was accessible to children if the game was not turned to "child mode." That feature was removed from the app as of 2019.
WARNING TO ALL PARENTS WITH CHILDREN THAT HAVE ANY ELECTRONIC DEVICES , EX : IPOD,TABLETS ETC ....
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Jan 28 23:24:24 2022 UTC)
The full message read:
WARNING 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 AND FAMILY MEMBERS THAT HAVE KIDS !!!!
The reference to an iPod shows how dated the claim is. While iPods are still available for sale, the iPod Classic was retired in 2014.
Lead Stories downloaded the app on an iPhone on January 28, 2022. The only question the app asks is what year you were born. It then asks for microphone access and the game begins with an animated cat sitting at a cafe table. There are no questions asked by the cat. The point of the game is that the cute cat mimics the user.
When the pink heart on the lower right of the corner is pressed, Angela is given a pink heart fortune cookie and an image of her pops up with various fortune texts that can be saved to the user's camera roll. It does not take a picture of the person playing the game.
There is a movie-set camera at the top left of the screen that allows the user to talk; Angela will repeat the message in her high-pitched voice. Angela does not ask any questions. If the user is under 14 the app will only allow them to share the recording to their photos. For users over 14 there is an option to email the recording using their own account.
The Guardian debunked the claim that the app was a front for a pedophile ring in a 2014 article titled, "What the Talking Angela app is really saying to your kids," and addressed the text-chat feature that seemed to be alarming parents:
The point: children aren't meant to be using Talking Angela's text-chat feature, yet the app's developer hasn't taken any meaningful measures to prevent them from simply toggling the child mode off. There's not even the "swipe down with two fingers" or "write this sequence of numbers as figures" parental gate that's become common in children's apps in recent months.
This feature is no longer available as of 2019, as a Politifact debunk reported.
The description of Talking Angela on the company Outfit7 website says:
Come join Talking Angela in Paris - the city of love, style and magic. There are so many surprises, you better sit down. 😉 Enjoy amazing gifts, pick the latest styles, and sip magical cocktails to experience special moments. And watch out for birds - you never know what might fly by.
As of January 28, 2022, the app available on the iPhone states:
This app is PRIVO certified. The PRIVO safe harbor seal indicates Outfit7 has established COPPA compliant privacy practices to protect your child's personal information. Our apps do not allow younger children to share their information.
An article published in USAToday in 2014 had a quote from Outfit7 co-founder and CEO Samo Login, who said that the then-available text-chat option was run by chat bot software:
'It's quite easy to get the illusion you are talking to a real person, but it's physically impossible to have someone behind the app,' Login told USA TODAY Network. In response to the warnings on Facebook, Login said, 'These comments are so ridiculous.'