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New York Passes Law to Protect Minors From “Addictive Feeds” on Social Media

ByHuey Yee Ong

Jun 10, 2024
New York Passes Law to Protect Minors From "Addictive Feeds" on Social Media

New York Passes Law to Protect Minors From “Addictive Feeds” on Social Media

New York State’s legislature has recently passed a significant piece of legislation, the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act, aimed at regulating how social media platforms engage with users under 18 years old.

The bill, which is now awaiting Governor Kathy Hochul’s signature, specifically targets “addictive feeds” — algorithmically generated content feeds that personalize content based on user data or device information. The legislation mandates that such feeds should not be accessible to minors without parental consent. In contrast, “non-addictive feeds,” which organize content in chronological order, will not be subject to these restrictions.

Governor Hochul has expressed strong support for the bill, anticipating that its implementation will lead the nation in protecting children from potentially harmful social media content while also safeguarding their personal data from exploitation.

Her office has praised the legislation alongside another related measure, the New York Child Data Protection Act, which prohibits the collection or sale of personal data from minors without informed consent. Governor Hochul highlighted these legislative moves as critical steps toward addressing the youth mental health crisis and enhancing digital safety for young users.

The SAFE Act introduces several operational requirements for social media companies, including:

  • The verification of users’ ages.
  • A curfew on notifications related to addictive feeds, prohibiting them from being sent to minors between midnight and 6am unless there is parental consent.
  • Non-compliance with these rules could lead to fines of up to $5,000 for each violation.

Opposition from NetChoice

Despite the supportive stance from state officials, the bill has encountered opposition from industry stakeholders. NetChoice, a trade association that includes prominent tech companies like Google, Meta, and Snap, as well as TechCrunch’s parent company Yahoo, has criticized the bill as both “dangerous and unconstitutional.”

Carl Szabo, NetChoice’s Vice President and General Counsel, contends that the legislation infringes on free speech rights and compromises the open internet. Szabo also expressed concerns about potential government overreach, suggesting that the act could enable state monitoring of individual online activities by requiring websites to verify the age of visitors.

NetChoice’s statement also says it has successfully defeated similar bills in Ohio, Arkansas, and California.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Andrew Gournades and Assemblymember Nily Rozic, with support from New York Attorney General Letitia James — all of whom are Democrats.

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Featured Image courtesy of Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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