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New York Introduces New Bill Prohibiting Addictive Social Media Content for Minors

Krishi Chowdhary Journalist Author expertise
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  • New York’s state legislature introduced a new bill on Friday that will ban social media companies from showing addictive content to users under 18 unless they have parental control.
  • Anyone found violating this rule will have 30 days to correct the issue. Else, they will have to pay $5,000 per underage user.
  • As expected, the social media companies are not happy with this news.

New Bill Bans Showing Addictive Social Media Content to Minors

New York is trying to limit the access of addictive social media content to kids. The state legislature passed a bill on Friday that will prevent social media apps from showing “addictive content” to users under the age of 18 unless they have parental consent.

The bill was sponsored by the following people:

  • State Senator Andrew Gournades
  • New York Attorney General Letitia James
  • Assembly Member Nily Rozic

Gov. Kathy Hochul is yet to sign the bill but considering she posted a statement in favor of the bill when it was passed, it’s fair to say that it will soon become a law.

“New York is leading the nation to protect our kids from addictive social media feeds and shield their personal data from predatory companies.” – Gov. Kathy Hochul

She also added that with this move, they will be taking a step closer to addressing the growing instances of youth mental health crises and creating a safe digital environment for them.

What Does This New Law Mean?

The Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act will require social media companies like Instagram and TikTok to change the type of algorithm they use for underage users.

Instead of the usual recommendation-based algorithm, they will now have to use a reverse chronology algorithm.

Basically, when content is shown based on recommendation, it uses the user’s past actions and information available on the device to find the content they are most likely to engage with. Naturally, users are more tempted to continue scrolling in this situation.

On the other hand, reverse chronology means the content is simply shown based on the time of posting i.e. newest to oldest, and no personal preferences are taken into account.

Any company found violating this rule will have 30 days to correct the issue. If they don’t, they will have to pay a fine of $5,000 per underage user.

There was another clause in the bill that banned companies from sending notifications to kids between 12 and 6 AM. However, an amendment on Monday removed this provision.

A second law (the New York Child Data Protection Act) was introduced in New York at the heels of the above-mentioned new bill. It prevents online sites from collecting activity data of underage users unless they have their consent.

What Do Social Media Companies Have to Say about NY’s New Ruling?

Meta released a statement saying that although it doesn’t agree with all the clauses mentioned in the bill, it will continue to cooperate with policymakers to find some common ground and create a safe environment for underage users.

Additionally, Meta also congratulated New York on being one of the first states to pass legislation on this matter.

NetChoice (a trade group whose members include Google, Meta, and Snapchat), on the other hand, had a more severe reaction to the bill and called it “unconstitutional and an assault of free speech.”

It believes that since this act will require the platforms to censor content unless the user verifies their age with a government ID, this law might pave the way for the government to keep a tab on what sites or content a user sees.

As per a study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, social media companies like Meta, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube earned a whopping $11 billion from advertising to minors. Therefore, such reactions are quite natural.

A similar action was also seen in Canada in March when four school boards sued Meta, ByteDance, and Snapchat for harming young minds. The lawsuit accused these social media giants of designing their systems in such a way that promotes compulsive use and rewires the way children behave and think.

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Krishi Chowdhary Journalist

Krishi Chowdhary Journalist

Krishi is an eager Tech Journalist and content writer for both B2B and B2C, with a focus on making the process of purchasing software easier for businesses and enhancing their online presence and SEO.

Krishi has a special skill set in writing about technology news, creating educational content on customer relationship management (CRM) software, and recommending project management tools that can help small businesses increase their revenue.

Alongside his writing and blogging work, Krishi's other hobbies include studying the financial markets and cricket.

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