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New York State will limit children's access to social networks: the bill has already been approved

'10.06.2024'

ForumDaily New York

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The New York Legislature passed a bill on June 7 that would ban social media platforms from using “addictive” recommendation algorithms for child users, NBC reported.


Gov. Kathy Hochul is expected to sign the bill. She posted a message on X on June 7 celebrating his acceptance.

This bill could fundamentally change the way children use social media net in state.

The essence of the bill

Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) Act for Children will forbid social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram serve content to users under 18 based on recommendation algorithms.

On the subject: New York sues popular social networks for 'damaging children's psyche'

The legislation describes algorithmic channels as “addictive” and claims they negatively impact children’s mental health.

New York's regulatory framework defines an "addictive channel" as one that recommends, selects, or prioritizes media based on information associated with the user or his device.

A company found to be in violation will have 30 days to correct the problem or pay up to $5000 in damages to a user under 18 years of age.

The bill was amended on June 3 to remove provisions prohibiting platforms from sending notifications to children between midnight and 6 a.m.

Measures in other states

Legislation to restrict children's use of social media is gaining popularity not only at the state level, but also at the federal level. The California bill, which passed the state Senate in May, is very similar to the New York bill. At the federal level, the Children's Online Safety Act would open the door to holding social media companies accountable for recommending harmful content to younger generations.

This bill could face challenges if it is signed into law. NetChoice, a trade group that represents big tech and social media companies such as Google, Meta and TikTok, has challenged several state laws over the past two years alleging First Amendment violations. NetChoice has obtained a preliminary injunction in Ohio and Arkansas and is awaiting a decision in California. Many of the recent legislative efforts to regulate social media have focused on children.

“If you can frame something as protecting children, it automatically carries more political weight,” said Evan Greer, director of the nonprofit digital rights group Fight for the Future.

Supporters of the New York bill include a coalition of parents who protested Meta during congressional hearings and outside the company's offices. Some parents have children who have committed suicide after viewing harmful content on social media. Julie Scelfo, a former New York Times journalist, founded the group Mothers Against Media Addiction (MOMA) and advocated for the bill in New York.

“We are in the middle of a national youth mental health emergency. It is clear that social networks and their addictive algorithms are the source of this situation, she noted. “It’s not social media per se, but addictive design.” It promotes the exploitation of children’s emotions for profit.”

Many proponents and opponents of these bills agree that technology platforms have harmful effects on children, but there is little agreement on how to solve the problem.

Controversial moments

However, not everyone likes the bills.

Greer and other civil liberties advocates argue that such laws trample the rights of companies and users.

“The courts have actually made it very clear that we can regulate the commercial surveillance practices that companies engage in. We can regulate particularly harmful business practices, such as autoplay and infinite scrolling,” Greer explained. “What we can't do is have the government control what young people can and can't see on the internet. That's when it comes to content, and that's when you run into the First Amendment."

Greer said commercial age verification methods, which would likely be required to enforce the law, further threaten the privacy of social media users and could pose a risk to civil liberties and anonymity online.

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