New York moves to ban social media companies from targeting kids

New York is set to become the first US state to ban social media companies from using algorithms to target children with addictive content.

As part of the crackdown, platforms would need parental consent if they used automated algorithms to pump content into the feeds of users under the age of 18.

Without that consent, minors should instead be shown chronological feeds of their friends’ content — similar to the early experiences with Facebook and Instagram.

And if families chose to, parents could block their children’s access to social media platforms overnight and limit the time they can be online.

News Corp Australia, along with parents across Australia, is calling on the Federal Government to raise the age limit at which children can access social media to 16 as part of the national Let Kids Be campaign to stop the scourge of social media.

Let them be children: SIGN THE PETITION

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul compared the crackdown — which she hopes will pass as early as this week — to how governments have protected children from cigarettes and alcohol.

“We stopped marketing tobacco to children. We raised the drinking age. And today we are fighting to protect children from the defining issue of our time,” she wrote in an opinion piece for the New York Post.

The Post and Wall Street Journal reported that state politicians had reached a tentative agreement to move the legislation forward.

New York will be the latest state to act to protect children on social media after Florida banned children under 14 from having accounts and Utah forced platforms to meet age verification requirements.

But the platforms have resisted state reforms, launching lawsuits against the new legislation and spending nearly $1 million lobbying against New York’s plan.

NetChoice — a trade group representing Facebook’s parent company Meta and X, formerly known as Twitter — argued the proposal would violate the constitutional right to free speech.

“It is less unconstitutional. Unfortunately, when it comes to constitutionality, close doesn’t count. Either you are or you’re not,” NetChoice’s Carl Szabo told the Journal.

“This legislation continues to violate the free speech protections guaranteed to the citizens of New York.”

In an interview Monday (local time), Ms. Hochul said a federal response to the problems caused by social media was needed.

But as Congress continues to debate proposals to protect children online, she said, “As the leader of this country, I cannot ignore the signs of distress and trauma among our young people. And it definitely has to do with what’s happening with these social media feeds.”

The new laws will be enforced by the attorney general, with the Journal reporting that the social media giants have managed to convince state lawmakers to waive parents’ right to sue them for any violations.

New York State Sen. Andrew Goundares, the bill’s sponsor, told the Post, “I think it’s huge.”

Originally published as “Fight to Protect Children”: New York plans to ban social media giants from targeting children

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