New York lawmakers pass bills on social media restrictions

Under the new laws, platforms will be barred from exposing ‘addictive’ algorithmic content to users under 18 without parental consent.

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New York state lawmakers have passed new legislation to restrict social media platforms from showing ‘addictive’ algorithmic content to users under 18 without parental consent. The measure to implement aims to mitigate online risks to children, making New York the latest state to take such action. A companion bill was also passed, which limits online sites from collecting and selling the personal data of minors.

Governor Kathy Hochul is expected to sign both bills into law, calling them a significant step toward addressing the youth mental health crisis and ensuring a safer digital environment. The legislation could impact revenues for social media companies like Meta, which generated significant income from advertising to minors.

While industry associations have criticised the bills as unconstitutional and an assault on free speech, proponents argue that the measures are necessary to protect adolescents from mental health issues linked to excessive social media use. The SAFE (Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation) for Kids Act will require parental consent for minors to view algorithm-driven content instead of providing a chronological feed of followed accounts and popular content.

The New York Child Data Protection Act, the companion bill, will bar online sites from collecting, using, or selling the personal data of minors without informed consent. Violations could result in significant penalties, adding a layer of protection for young internet users.