New York’s creative solution to targeting children online: Block algorithms

New York’s creative solution to targeting children online: Block algorithms

New York could soon become the first state to pass a law barring social media platforms from using algorithms to promote content to minors.

New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers are nearing a legislative agreement on the proposal, according to a person familiar with the matter. The bill would push platforms like TikTok and Instagram Meta to rank content in chronological order by default for younger users.

This could mean significant changes to the way children in New York interact with social media apps and would make feeds of algorithmically generated content an opt-in experience that requires parental consent.

The upcoming legislative agreement also includes separate measures aimed at protecting children’s privacy, the person added. As currently written, the bill would block websites from collecting or sharing the personal data of users under 18 without permission, expanding existing federal privacy protections for children under 13.

The tentative agreement on the social media bill was previously reported by The Wall Street Journal. Agreements covering children’s privacy have not been previously reported.

In addition to curbing algorithmic content feeds, the social media legislation would also force platforms to allow parents to set stricter limits on their children’s social media use, such as at night, and to set limits on app notifications that critics of the technology say keep users out. addicted

Both pieces of legislation were introduced last fall. State lawmakers could vote as soon as this week, according to the Journal.

As the bill has progressed, state lawmakers have been the target of intense tech industry lobbying — mirroring legislative battles in states like Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana and more that have pushed to pass laws that curb media companies. social.

Industry groups have challenged some of those laws from other states, in many cases arguing that they violate teenagers’ First Amendment rights to access legitimate information. In Ohio this year, a federal judge temporarily blocked a law that prohibits online platforms from creating accounts for users under the age of 16 unless they have parental permission, saying the legislation was likely unconstitutional.

New York officials have said their proposal is about regulating how platforms can display content, not restricting user access.

“We’re not banning young people from social media,” Hochul said in an interview on NPR Monday. “Not at all. We’re just saying that they shouldn’t be bombarded with this feed that could be sorted in a different way and not in a very negative way for them.”

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