New York’s social media law

June 15, 2024 

New York is introducing legislation to protect children from concerning risks associated with their use of social media.

The legislation, called the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act, has been passed by two houses of government and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul.

The legislation aims to stop the use of addictive feeds in social media used by children under the age of 18.

It explains that ‘Social media platforms automatically process enormous amounts of data about the behavior of users, using tens or hundreds of thousands of data points for each user, filtered through sophisticated machine learning algorithms, to create media feeds personalized to each user.’

It says this data is used to predict children’s interests and direct relevant content to them, with the intention of keeping them engaged for as long as possible.

While this approach is profitable, legislators do not consider it to be in the best interests of children.

The legislation says, ‘Since their adoption, addictive feeds have had a dramatic negative effect on children and teenagers, causing young users to spend more time on social media than they otherwise would, which has been tied to significantly higher rates of youth depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and self-harm. Children are particularly susceptible to addictive feeds because they provide a non-stop drip of dopamine with each new piece of media and because children are less capable of exercising the impulse control necessary to mitigate these negative effects. Research shows that spending time on social media is ten times more dangerous than other kinds of screentime.’

The legislation would apply to social media platforms where the addictive feed is a significant, rather than ancillary, part of its service.

Earlier this year the state of Florida introduced legislation restricting children’s use of social media, based on concerns about addiction and mental health problems. The law, which will become effective on 1 January, prevents children under the age of 14 from having a social media account and requires children aged 14 and 15 to have their parent’s permission before opening an account.

Assembly Bill A8148A, Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act, 

New Florida Law Aims to Get Kids Off Social Media. Will It Work?

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