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  5. Five years with Duo Forced to…


Five years with Duo Forced to say Good bye.

With our district's push to follow federal and state guidelines for student privacy (the epitome of irony since we're using Google), my students are being forced to say good bye to Duolingo, because of noncompliance, with no promise or evidence of effort to comply. We've emailed the support staff, and not received more than a cursory response. As an individual, I will be watching developments here, but personally, I'm increasingly concerned with egregious errors on the French board that have now stood for months uncorrected. I'm happy Duo has expanded, but grieved that what made you great has been diminished by your greatness.

October 22, 2019



Petemehegan, Do your students have district e-mail accounts? Have you thought about letting them make up fake names? I am afraid this will happen in my district, also. I will bring this up in the Educator's Slack forum to get more eyes on the issue.


This is a policy thing and a state wide initiative to protect kids. Duo allows links to Facebook. That policy alone is a game stopper. Duo is aware, and has been aware for over a year. The word that is being passed around is that they indicated that they are doing something...Duo's policy of remaining free means they are dependent on their profits from other links. That might enter into the problem Everybody loves free....few believe that "free" is actually free.


Hi Pete, Can you say more about what you're referring to with "allows links to Facebook". Is that the Facebook-connect sign-in option that you get when entering the site through duolingo.com instead of schools.duolingo.com or are you referring to something different?

Thank you


Our IT folks pointed out a direct link to FB tab that I cannot disable on each student's account. There were several "violations" that would preclude our district approving FB. From memory, the FB link was first on the list. Then students cannot change their screen name. There were others, and I could grab a list and post it if you're interested. They were all mentioned here in the forums on another thread, that I was on this morning, so these stipulations are not mysterious. Conjuguemos, another app we're using, was able to comply, and is back on our nice list...The naughty list is extensive.


I'm not sure which FB link this would be... is there a chance you could post a screenshot?

As for changing screen-names, each user has two types of name and they can both be changed. One is the username which each student can change here: https://www.duolingo.com/settings/account The other is the "full name" (or "display name") which they can change here: https://www.duolingo.com/settings/profile

I would be interested in the list if you still have it handy! Thank you. I'm not sure we'll be able to get on the "nice" list if you live in a place that requires signing contracts with each school (we can't scale that so we currently don't do that).


I'm not sure how to post a screen shot, unless I link to something on the cloud...https://1drv.ms/u/s!AhD3OklMtwXHgadVyPBjMfveM0VKdA?e=tvF0SC Does this work? I highlighted the offending tab. I'll see what I can do for the list as well. Our IT folks have been working tirelessly to make this work for me. I do have advocates here.


Thanks Pete, I'm looking into the Facebook Connect button and the links to our social twitter/fb/insta pages.

For #2 from your IT guy, is he basically saying that any app that stores student input (which could in theory go public if a site got hacked) isn't allowed in your state? Or is he saying that it's okay as long as we don't get hacked. I'm not sure how to read that one.


Here's their immediate response! Tell them we could use DuoLingo again if:

  1. Shutdown the FB button.
  2. Don't allow students to change their name, username, or email address. Only allow the teacher to do so in the teacher console.

The disqualifying trait is apparently the ease with which a student can change his school screen name to his own, and thus create links that would be deleterious to security...Does that make sense?


As for the social links: the part to "find friends on facebook" shows up for normal users and NOT for students if their teacher has disabled the Social Settings.

Just yesterday we rolled out a change to make it so the buttons linking to our twiter/fb/instagram pages are also hidden for users with Social Features disabled. If you or your IT person want to see what it looks like from a student perspective, a good way to do that is to join your own classroom as a student.

As for the other concern about having students be able to edit their username, it might not seem like it but that would be a rather big undertaking to allow that to be a thing you could turn off for some students. That is unlikely to change any time soon. I hope the fact that it requires the site to be hacked for the field to even show up will help it be allowed... especially given that the fields are likely not to contain any sensitive data unless someone decides to go against your recommendations and put something else in there.

Best of luck! Hope you hear back from your team soon.


Here's the email I got from the IT folks: Here it is....

I set up a teacher console and added a fake student. There are 2 things completely out of the teacher's control:

  1. Students have a button to connect Duolingo to their Facebook Account.

  2. Students can change their name, username, and email address. It is possible for the teacher to keep the profile private and the name wouldn't be seen. But I know, if Duolingo were breached and a student changed to their full name, it would be a violation.

They added, "When all the schools in NH are in compliance with the current law, no school in NH will be allowed to use Duolingo." Pete


I shot your question off to our friends here. They're quick to respond, because they know the benefits of this app...I'll let you know right away. I was curious on that point as well! Thanks for your response, btw.


True, what you say. I've started the discussion in the Slack forum and we'll see what ideas everyone comes up with. Good luck in the mean time!


Just wondering if you had any luck with this yet in NH. I'm in NY and we are no longer allowed to use Duolingo either, due to the new student data privacy law (yes, my school issued that directive in the middle of remote learning :( ) Wondering if Duolingo plans on getting on board with privacy concerns before they lose any more states...


I have had no luck but longing regret during the long cold weeks of home confinement, and scrambling for what could have been a perfect experience...I have emailed the changes DL has provided here, but I really only have a couple weeks left. Perhaps the fact that I shut down the social link will entice them to reconsider.

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