New York’s Milestone Law Regulates Addictive Social Media Feeds for Children

New York’s Milestone Law Regulates Addictive Social Media Feeds for Children

Reading time: 15 min

  • Shipra Sanganeria

    Written by: Shipra Sanganeria Cybersecurity & Tech Writer

  • Kate Richards

    Fact-Checked by Kate Richards Content Manager

New York became the latest US state to pass a law protecting kids and teens from harmful social media practices. The two bills, signed by Governor Kathy Hochul last week, regulate addictive algorithm feeds on social media platforms and restrict the use of children’s online data.

“Today, we save our children,” Governor Hochul said at a press conference last week. “We have heard their cries for help, reminding us as adults that we have a moral responsibility to protect young New Yorkers from harm and from addictive forces.”

The first bill, Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act, mandates that social media companies such as TikTok and Instagram refrain from using recommendation algorithms to deliver content to users under 18. Instead, these platforms are required to display content chronologically for this age group. Additionally, the law stipulates that social media platforms must restrict app notifications to minors from 12 AM to 6 AM.

These restrictions can be overridden if a minor secures “verifiable parental consent,” as outlined in the legislation.

The second bill, named the New York Child Data Protection Act, prohibits online platforms from collecting, using, sharing, or selling any personal data of children under the age of 18 without obtaining informed consent, except when such information is essential for the website’s operation.

The SAFE for Kids Act will not take immediate effect because it mandates the state attorney general’s office to establish procedures for verifying a user’s age and obtaining parental consent. Once established, the social media companies will have 180 days to implement the new regulations. The New York Child Data Protection Act is set to take effect in one year.

Violations of these laws could lead to civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.

While the new laws were celebrated as a historic measure aimed at curbing social media’s impact on children, legal challenges, particularly from opponents such as tech industry giants and lobbyists, are anticipated to arise.

For instance, Adam Kovacevich, CEO of the tech industry advocacy group Chamber of Progress, said the legislation was “a well-intentioned effort, but it’s aimed at the wrong target.” He warned that the law was likely to “face a constitutional minefield” as it “dictates what speech platforms can and cannot show users.”

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