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New York Enacts Landmark Act to Curb Addictive Social Media Feeds

Client Updates / Jun 30, 2024

Written by: Haim Ravia and Dotan Hammer

On June 7, 2024, the New York legislature passed the precedential Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation for Kids Act, targeting the harmful effects of social media on children. The Governor of the State of New York subsequently signed the Act into law on June 21, 2024. The law aims to protect children’s mental health by restricting their exposure to addictive social media feeds and reducing sleep disruptions caused by nighttime social media use. These feeds utilize sophisticated algorithms to engage users by processing extensive user data, often compromising their well-being.

This legislation complements the New York Child Data Protection Act, which bars online platforms from collecting, using, sharing, or selling the personal data of anyone under 18 without informed consent unless it is essential for the website’s function.

Moreover, the Act prohibits sending overnight notifications about addictive feeds to minors between 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. ET without parental consent. It also bans social media operators from degrading, withholding, lowering the quality, or increasing the price of any service if they cannot provide an addictive feed. The legislation enforces age verification standards to ensure methods are accessible and do not rely solely on biometrics or government IDs. Violations can result in penalties of up to $5,000 per infraction.

In a related effort, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has advocated for Congress to pass a law requiring social media networks to display warning labels similar to those on cigarette packs and alcohol bottles. In an article published in The New York Times, Dr. Murthy highlighted the escalating mental health crisis among young people, identifying social media as a significant factor.

These warning labels would regularly remind parents and adolescents that the safety of social media has not been established. Drawing parallels to the effectiveness of tobacco warning labels in reducing smoking rates since 1965, Dr. Murthy believes similar measures could decrease social media usage and inform parents about potential harm. Studies, such as a 2019 American Medical Association study published in JAMA, show that teens who spend three hours daily on social media are twice as likely to develop depression.

Dr. Murthy added that while the warning labels might not directly enhance children’s safety and legislation alone won’t solve the problem, they could help inform users about the risks associated with social media use.

Click here to read the NY Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation for Kids Act.

Click here to read U.S. Surgeon General’s article published in The New York Times.

Click here to read the study published by the American Medical Association in the journal JAMA.