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New York State Bears Down On Tech Companies Over Social Media Addiction

New York State’s legislature is voting soon on a bill that will restrict the interaction between social media companies and kids. The problems caused by so-called addictive algorithms have been well documented at AddictionNews.

The legislation expected to pass in New York prohibits companies from sending notifications to minors during the overnight hours unless there is parental consent. It also restricts the sort of automated feeds that result in an endless scroll of related material, often “leading children to violent and sexually explicit content.”

In support of the legislation, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said that heavy social media usage by teens led to “higher instances of mental illness.” In March, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation to prohibit children under the age of 14 from having social media accounts and to require parental consent for 14- and 15-year-olds.

The tech industry is fighting against this legislation every step of the way. An earlier version of the bill was withdrawn in New York after a lawsuit from tech industry trade group NetChoice. They argue the New York legislation is a violation of the First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech. New York legislators tailored the new bill around that objection by restricting only the method of delivery, not the content.

“Parents, not politicians, should be making the rules for their families,” said Carl Szabo, NetChoice Vice President & General Counsel, in response to the New York legislation. NetChoice has been successful in stalling, shaping and challenging legislation in Ohio, Arkansas, and California. They argue it is unfair to put the onus of age verification onto platforms because it would require the transmission and storage of sensitive identity documents that will make kids less safe, adding:

Allowing government parenting, censorship and tracking online is a dire threat to core American principles and family values.

Marketplace Tech has an interesting podcast about NetChoice and its role in battling laws that seek to restrict social media companies. Lily Jamali interviews Bloomberg Law’s Isaiah Poritz, who provides a summary of NetChoice’s history defending high-tech free speech. If conservative lawmakers are successful in stopping social media companies’ efforts to censor their own platforms, they will be forced to host a flood of hate speech and explicit content that will harm children and families. One side will force them to leave the content up and the other side will sue them for not taking the content down.

One way or another, it looks like social media is reaching a critical age where it is causing documented harm to adolescents and must be curbed by schools, parents, lawsuits, and legislation. The next few years will set the boundaries of behavior and establish penalties for the expenses social media has inflicted upon schools, states, families, and insurance companies.

Written by Steve O’Keefe. First published June 13, 2024.


“New York Set to Restrict Social-Media Algorithms for Teens,” The Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2024.

“NetChoice Condemns New York’s New Unconstitutional Internet Censorship Law,” NetChoice News Release, June 7, 2024.

“Ron DeSantis signs Florida social media ban for children into law,” The Guardian, March 26, 2024.

“How NetChoice became Big Tech’s ally against social media regulation,” Marketplace Tech, February 26, 2024.

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons, used under Creative Commons license.


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