Legislation Passed in New York to Ban ‘Addictive’ Social Media Algorithms for Kids

New York’s Legislature recently approved a bill that would prohibit social media platforms from utilizing “addictive” recommendation algorithms for child users. The bill is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul, who expressed her support for the legislation.

The Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids act aims to change the way children interact with social media by preventing platforms like TikTok and Instagram from suggesting content to users under the age of 18 based on algorithms. Instead, social media companies will be required to offer reverse-chronological feeds for young users.

According to the legislation, algorithmic feeds are considered “addictive” and have a negative impact on the mental health of children. The bill defines an “addictive feed” as one that recommends, selects, or prioritizes media based on user information. Companies found in violation of the law could face penalties of up to $5,000 per user under the age of 18 if they fail to address the issue within 30 days.

Although the bill faced amendments to remove restrictions on platform notifications to children during certain hours, it reflects a broader trend of regulating social media use for minors. Similar bills have been proposed in other states and at the federal level, such as the Kids Online Safety Act, which seeks to hold social media companies accountable for recommending harmful content to children.

However, the legislation may encounter legal challenges from trade groups like NetChoice, representing tech giants like Google, Meta, and TikTok. These organizations argue that such laws violate the First Amendment and have successfully challenged similar laws in other states.

Proponents of the bill include parents who have experienced firsthand the harmful effects of social media on their children’s mental health. Advocates like Julie Scelfo, founder of Mothers Against Media Addiction (MAMA), emphasize the urgent need to address the addictive nature of social media algorithms and their impact on youth mental health.

While there is general agreement on the negative effects of tech platforms on children, there are differing opinions on how to regulate them. Some argue for stricter privacy and antitrust measures, while others believe that laws restricting content access could infringe on users’ rights.

The New York bill, introduced by Democrat Andrew Gournardes, has garnered bipartisan support in the state Legislature and reflects a growing bipartisan effort to regulate social media use for minors. Despite criticisms from civil liberties advocates about potential privacy concerns and government overreach, the bill represents a significant step towards addressing the impact of social media algorithms on children’s well-being.

In conclusion, the passage of this legislation in New York highlights the ongoing debate over the regulation of social media platforms and their influence on youth mental health.

Kat Tenbarge is a tech and culture reporter for NBC News Digital. She can be reached at