UNITED STATES NEWS

“Addictive” social media feeds that keep children online targeted by New York lawmakers

Oct 11, 2023, 10:52 AM

New York would restrict the way online platforms like Instagram and YouTube can collect and share children’s personal information and let parents keep their kids from being bombarded by “addictive” feeds from accounts they don’t follow, under legislation proposed Wednesday.

The bills offered by state leaders are aimed at protecting young people from features designed to keep them endlessly scrolling, endangering their mental health and development, Attorney General Letitia James said.

“Young New Yorkers are struggling with record levels of anxiety and depression, and social media companies that use addictive features to keep minors on their platforms longer are largely to blame,” James said. “This legislation will help tackle the risks of social media affecting our children and protect their privacy.”

The regulations sought by James and Gov. Kathy Hochul, both Democrats, are similar to rules already in place in Europe, where violations could incur fines worth a percentage of revenue, which could run into the billions of dollars for wealthy tech companies.

Neither Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, nor YouTube immediately responded to requests for comment from those two California-based companies.

One of the bills, the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act, would would allow parents to opt their kids out of getting feeds curated by an algorithm. Instead it would have them get a chronological feed of content from users they already follow. Algorithms are the automated systems that social media platforms use to keep users engaged by suggesting content based on the groups, friends, topics and headlines a user has clicked on in the past.

The legislation also would let users block access to social media platforms from midnight to 6 a.m. and limit the hours a child spends on a site.

The second bill, the New York Child Data Protection Act, would prohibit all online sites from collecting, using, sharing, or selling personal data of anyone under 18 years old, unless they receive informed consent or it’s otherwise necessary.

Companies could be fined $5,000 per violation of either law.

Under new digital rules that came into force this year across the 27-nation European Union, platforms have to give users an alternative to automated systems that recommend videos and posts based on their profiles. Thus Meta, for example, now also allows European users to see chronological Facebook and Instagram posts only from people they follow.

The rules, known as the Digital Services Act, also prohibit platforms from using children’s data and online activity to target them with personalized ads.

Another set of rules, the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, provide beefed-up data safeguards and rights for EU residents. Regulators slapped TikTok with a $366 million fine last month for breaching GDPR by failing to protect children’s privacy.

The legislation in New York also follows actions taken by other U.S. states this year to curb social media use among children. In March, Utah became the first state to pass laws that require minors to get parental consent before using social media. The laws also compel companies to verify the ages of all their Utah users, impose a digital curfew for people under 18 and ban ads from being promoted to minors. But experts have noted the new rules, which are set to take effect next year, could be difficult to enforce.

Meanwhile, another state law in Arkansas that would have also required parental consent for children to create social media accounts was put on hold by a federal judge in August.

Aside from issuing new laws, some states also have been taking social media companies to court over a host of issues, including their algorithms and data collection practices. This week, Utah filed a lawsuit against TikTok, alleging the app’s addictive algorithm is damaging minors. Arkansas is also suing TikTok and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram. Indiana sued TikTok last year claiming the Chinese-owned app misleads users about the level of inappropriate content on the app and the security of their information, but the challenge doesn’t appear to be going in the state’s favor.

The U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to decide whether state attempts to regulate social media platforms violate the Constitution. The justices will review two laws from Florida and Texas that mostly aim to prevent social platforms from censoring users based on their viewpoints.

United States News

Associated Press

Appeals court won’t halt upcoming Alabama execution

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Tuesday declined to halt the upcoming execution of an Alabama man convicted in the beating deaths of an elderly couple during a 2004 robbery. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied two separate requests for an execution stay for Jamie Ray Mills, 50. Mills is […]

1 hour ago

Donald Trump speaks to the media as he arrives to court during his trial for allegedly covering up ...

Associated Press

Trump prosecutor focuses on ‘cover-up’ in closing arguments while defense attacks key witness

Donald Trump engaged in “a conspiracy and a cover-up,” a prosecutor told jurors during closing arguments Tuesday in the former president's hush money trial.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

A driver with an Oregon-based medical care nonprofit is fatally shot in Ethiopia while in a convoy

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A staff member with an Oregon medical care nonprofit was killed when the team he was traveling with in a convoy was fired upon in Ethiopia, officials said Monday. Mustefa Alkisim was a Medical Teams International driver traveling in the insecure Amhara region of Ethiopia Friday when men fired at the […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

European-Japanese climate research satellite launched from California aboard SpaceX rocket

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — A European-Japanese climate research satellite designed to study Earth’s temperature balance was launched into orbit from California on Tuesday. The EarthCARE satellite lifted off from coastal Vandenberg Space Force Base atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 3:20 p.m. The satellite was successfully deployed about 10 minutes later, […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Former California water official pleads guilty to conspiring to steal water from irrigation canal

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A former California water official has pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal water in a deal with federal prosecutors in the state’s crop-rich Central Valley. The Los Angeles Times reports Tuesday that 78-year-old Dennis Falaschi, who used to head the Panoche Water District, entered the plea in federal court in Fresno. […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Prosecutors build their case at bribery trial of Sen. Bob Menendez with emails and texts

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors were presenting their bribery case against New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez drip-by-drip on Tuesday, showing jurors a steady stream of documents, emails and phone records that they’ll explain more thoroughly later in the trial. The evidence was being shown to Manhattan federal court jurors through the testimony of an FBI […]

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

“Addictive” social media feeds that keep children online targeted by New York lawmakers