Gov. Hochul, NY officials announce social media protection bills for children

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Thursday, October 12, 2023
Israel war content is being watched by children on social media platforms
As the war in Israel unfolds, the horrors and violence is shown all over social media platforms. Kemberly Richardson has the latest.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Seeing war and violence is hard for everyone, but it can be especially damaging for children when it comes to what they see on social media.

Right now many social media feeds are inundated with a steady stream of disturbing images of violence and terror unfolding in Gaza in Israel.

Convinced social media platforms are fueling a mental health crisis among the nation's youth, public officials in New York announced new legislation Wednesday that would restrict algorithms that target young users.

"Young New Yorkers are struggling with record levels of anxiety and depression, and social media companies that use addictive features to keep minors on their platforms longer are largely to blame," New York Attorney General Letitia James said.

The legislation would, among other things, give her office new enforcement power over social media companies.

"Our kids are in crisis, and the adults in the room need to step up," said New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. "The statistics are extraordinarily disturbing: teen suicide rates are spiking, and diagnoses of anxiety and depression are surging."

"Our kids are in crisis, and the adults in the room need to step up," said New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Algorithmic feeds are designed to harness personal data to serve users content that keeps them engaged for as long as possible.

Sponsors of the legislation said that has increased the addictive nature of social media platforms and heightened the risk to young users' wellbeing. Hochul said she considers algorithms the new tobacco.

"It preys on you, you don't ask for content, it finds it's way to you by very sophisticated ways," Hochul said.

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube would all be subject to the legislation that allows users under 18 to opt out of receiving algorithmic feeds, allow parents to allow algorithmic feeds to limit access between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. and prohibit social media platforms from sending notifications to minors during those same hours without verifiable parental consent.

Senator Andrew Goundares joined Mornings @ 10 on Thursday to discuss the importance of social media restrictions for children.

Senator Andrew Goundares joins the Morning @ 10 team to discuss the importance of the new social media protection bills for children.

The attorney general's office would be authorized to bring an action to enjoin or seek damages or civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.

Some think that is crucial as tensions continue to escalate in the Middle East.

"Showing children through these feeds unspeakable truths is not a responsible thing happening on our social media platforms," said Assembly member Nily Rozic.


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