New York bans “addictive” social media feeds for kids

Anurag Singh
Smartphone with social media app folder having ban symbol

New York Government on Thursday signed a bill into law banning addictive social media feeds for children and teens, stating after the signing, “Today, we save our children.”

Governor Kathy Hochul (D) signed two bills into law on Thursday that aim to protect kids and teens from social media harms. The unprecedented move makes New York the first state to pass a law regulating social media algorithms.

The first bill, the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act, will require social media apps to display content chronologically by default for kids under 18. To display “addictive feeds” powered by recommendation algorithms on kids and teens, social media companies will need parental consent.

The SAFE For Kids Act also requires platforms to limit late-night app notifications. The state lawmakers believe these notifications are engineered to drive user engagement, hindering sleep.

An influencer degree can now be obtained.

The other bill, the New York Child Data Protection Act, cracks down on how companies collect data from kids. It limits what information can be gathered without permission and restricts selling that data to others. There’s no requirement for websites or apps to verify a user’s age, though. The law is set to go into effect in one year.

“Today, we save our children,” Hochul said Thursday at a press conference. “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 SAFE For Kids Act will impact social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat, while the Data Protection Act will influence how Google and other companies handle the data of kids and teens.

The two bills come days after US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called for warning labels to be applied to social media platforms.