Talking Angela is not a front for pedophiles, despite what a viral Facebook hoax has claimed about the popular children’s app.
The app features a cartoon cat named Angela who hangs out in a cafe and repeats what the user says. But the app also has a feature for Talking Angela to text with users, one that can only be accessed when child mode is turned off.
That is where the hoax kicked in. A message spread on Facebook claiming that the Talking Angela asked a young girl where her brother is, and “then its voice changes and in some weird robotic voice it says angelica when u date what do u do on your dates?”
But experts say that isn’t possible. The Talking Angela app uses chat bot software, meaning it’s impossible for a real human to take over talking for Angela.
“It’s all hysteria,” said Chester Wisniewski, a senior security adviser with Sophos, in an interview with USA Today Network.
Wisniewski said there is a useful lesson in the Talking Angela hoax, however.
“What we hope people take away from this is you should be looking at all the things you load on your phone and share with your kids,” Wisniewski said.
The company that created Talking Angela, Our Fit 7 Ltd, also released a statement denying the pedophile claims and explaining how the confusion may have occurred.
“We’ve worked hard to make Angela as intelligent as a human but, the fact remains, she is still a computer program so can be confused by strange questions, incorrect spelling and deliberately provocative words. As such, some of her answers can be strange. All computer programs of this nature have their limitations – which is why the chat bot function is disabled when in child mode.”
A blog post by Sophos went into further detail about why the Talking Angela scare was a hoax. The post noted that there were no sources to back up the Facebook story, and no other reports of the same thing happening.