AG Letitia James, Gov. Hochul push to restrict social media content for underage users

 June 5, 2024

There's no denying that our youngest generations are spending far too much time glued to screens and social media platforms, causing irreprebale harm to their development. 

Two well-known officials in New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul and NY Attorney General Letitia James, are working on legislation that would place strict limits on what children can see online and how long they're allowed to see it, the Associated Press reported.

The legislation is drawing massive pushback from Big Tech companies, for obvious reasons.

Earlier this week, New York lawmakers indicated they were finalizing a bill that would significantly change the way children use the internet.

What's going on?

In recent years, several studies have shown that children -- like adults -- can easily be addicted to social media platforms, given that the seemingly never-ending scrolling provides a constant stream of mini dopamine hits, not unlike what happens to the brain of drug users.

"The algorithmic feeds are designed as dopamine for kids," Assembly sponsor Nily Rozic, a Democrat, said Tuesday. "We are trying to regulate that design feature."

The AP noted:

Supporters say New York’s Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) For Kids Act, which would prohibit algorithm-fed content without “verifiable parental consent,” is aimed at protecting the mental health and development of young people by shielding them from features designed to keep them endlessly scrolling.

One of the changes to the social media platforms' algorithm is a simple approach -- instead of allowing the site to choose the content that children see, the children would only see content from people they follow, in chronological order.

Rozic said the content on the platforms would not be regulated, only "the vehicle that supercharges the feed and makes it more addictive."

Several other states have taken similar measures, including in Florida where Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill banning social media accounts for children under 14 "and requiring parental permission for 14- and 15-year-olds."


Not surprisingly, Big Tech and some adocacy groups aren't thrilled with the idea of changing up the social media platforms.

Surveillance Technology Oversight Project director Albert Fox Cahn doesn't believe lawmakers are going about it the right way.

"Lawmakers are legislating a fairy tale," Cahn said in a statement. "There simply is no technology that can prove New Yorkers’ ages without undermining their privacy."

Other groups said such a bill would violate First Amendment rights and make it much more difficult for adults to navigate such sites. Only time will tell if the bill passes and what it will mean for underage users.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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