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New York prohibits social media platforms from using 'suggested content' algorithms on kids' accounts

Governor Kathy Hochul signed a law that puts parents in control of their children's accounts. Minors will only see posts from accounts they follow appear in their feed.

Kathy Hochul

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New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a new law that will allow parents to permanently block social media posts on the children's accounts that are displayed by the platforms' automated algorithm in the form of "suggested content" or an advertisement.

Instead, children will only see content from accounts they follow in their feed.

A law to 'protect children'

Likewise, the Child Safety Act will not allow social media platforms to send certain notifications to minors between midnight and 6 a.m.

Governor Hochul assured that with the initiative it will be possible to regulate the algorithms of the networks and in turn protect children from the "danger" of "powerful forces outside their own control":

We can protect our kids. We can tell the companies that you are not allowed to do this, you don’t have a right to do this, that parents should have say over their children’s lives and their health, not you.

Parents or the minor can deactivate both measures. But the child will need the permission of his or her representative and obtain what the law defines as "verifiable parental consent."

The process to activate the law will be long. It will not come into force immediately, since Letitia James, the state's attorney general, still needs to develop a series of rules to determine the mechanisms for verifying users' age and parental consent. After this, social media companies will have 180 days to implement the rules.

Social media companies disagree

NetChoice, a tech industry group that includes X and Meta, rejected the legislation, saying it is unconstitutional. Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of NetChoice, said in a statement:

This is an assault on free speech and the open internet by the State of New York ... New York has created a way for the government to track what sites people visit and their online activity by forcing websites to censor all content unless visitors provide an ID to verify their age.