HomeWinBuzzer NewsNY State Bans Addictive Social Media Feeds for Minors

NY State Bans Addictive Social Media Feeds for Minors

The new legislation mandates that platforms like TikTok and Instagram provide reverse-chronological feeds to minors instead of algorithm-driven content.

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A bill restricting algorithms for users under 18 has been approved by the New York Legislature. Governor Kathy Hochul is expected to sign it into law, having shown prior support for the measure.

This New York action is part of a growing movement, both at the state and federal levels, to manage social media's impact on children, reflecting increased attention to digital platforms' effect on youth mental health.

The new legislation, the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act, mandates that platforms like TikTok and Instagram provide reverse-chronological feeds to minors instead of algorithm-driven content. Defined as “addictive feeds”, these algorithms use user data to personalize content, which is considered detrimental to minors' mental well-being. If platforms do not comply within 30 days, they could face penalties up to $5,000 per underage user.

This New York action is part of a growing movement, both at the state and federal levels, to manage social media's impact on children, reflecting increased attention to digital platforms' effect on youth mental health.

Support From Lawmakers and Advocacy Groups

Introduced by Democrat NY State Senator Andrew Gournardes, the bill has secured bipartisan support from over two dozen state senators and advocacy groups like Mothers Against Media Addiction (MAMA). Activists such as MAMA advocate Julie Scelfo have emphasized the importance of addressing the adverse effects of social media on youth mental health.

Alongside the SAFE for Kids Act, the New York Child Data Protection Act was also passed. This act prevents platforms from collecting, using, sharing, or selling minors' personal data without informed consent, unless necessary for the platform's function. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has the authority to enforce these laws and can impose civil penalties up to $5,000 per infraction.

The SAFE for Kids Act also includes measures restricting social media notifications to minors between midnight and 6 a.m. without parental consent. The OAG will develop methods for appropriate age verification and parental consent once the law is implemented.

Industry Pushback and Legal Challenges

NetChoice, representing prominent tech companies such as Google, Meta, and TikTok, has opposed similar laws in other states, citing First Amendment rights. The group has achieved preliminary injunctions against such legislation in places like Ohio and Arkansas and is awaiting a court decision in California. Critics argue the bill might infringe on civil liberties and suggest a focus on regulating harmful business practices instead.

Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future, expressed worries about age-verification practices compromising user privacy, vital for vulnerable groups. Greer supports broader privacy and antitrust laws rather than government-regulated online content for minors.

State Leadership and Legislative Initiatives

Attorney General Letitia James highlighted the exacerbation of the children's mental health crisis by social media, commending the new law. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins pointed to the Senate's establishment of the Internet and Technology Committee to tackle such issues. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie stressed the evolving need for child protections online and offline, while Assemblymember Nily Rozic described the new laws as a significant enhancement to child online privacy safeguards.

Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus is the founder of WinBuzzer and has been playing with Windows and technology for more than 25 years. He is holding a Master´s degree in International Economics and previously worked as Lead Windows Expert for Softonic.com.

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