NY Sen Gounardes to Zuckerberg: "Save your Sorries, Stop Lobbying Against Kids in NY"

Gounardes sponsors two bills to regulate social media for kids online

NEW YORK, NY (02/01/2024) (readMedia)-- Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing regarding teens online, featuring testimonies from CEOs of major social media companies, Meta, X, Discord, Tik Tok and Snapchat. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized to families in the room, saying:

"It's terrible. No one should have to go through the things that your families have suffered. And this is why we invest so much and are going to continue doing industry-leading efforts to make sure that no one has to go through the things your families have had to suffer."

In response, State Senator Andrew Gounardes released the following statement:

"Yesterday Congress forced Mark Zuckerberg to apologize to the families and children who've been victimized on his platform. But New Yorkers don't need an apology from anyone, what we need is regulation. Talk is cheap, so I'm daring Meta to put your money where your mouth is and stop lobbying against my legislation to keep kids safe online."

Big Tech has hired 12 lobbying firms in New York, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to kill these bills. A recent Harvard study found that Big Tech made $11 billion in ad revenue from underage users in 2022 alone.

Learn more about the legislation: www.keepkidssafeonlineny.com.


Bill #1: Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act

This SAFE for Kids Act will require social media companies to restrict the addictive features on their platforms that most harm young users. Currently, platforms supplement the content that users view from the accounts they follow by serving them additional content from accounts they do not follow or subscribe to. This content is curated using algorithms that gather and display content based on a variety of factors. However, algorithmic feeds have been shown to be addictive because they prioritize content that keeps users on the platform longer. Addictive feeds are correlated with an increase in the amount of time that teens and young adults spend on social media and significant negative mental health outcomes for minors.

To address this problem, the legislation will:

  • Ban social media platforms from offering addictive feeds to any persons under 18 without parental consent. Instead, users will receive a chronological feed of content from only the users that they already follow or feeds of generally popular content – the same way that social media feeds functioned before the advent of addictive feeds. Users may also search for specific topics of interest.
  • Prohibit social media platforms from sending notifications to minors from 12AM and 6AM without verifiable parental consent.
  • Allow users and parents to opt out of minors accessing social media platforms between the hours of 12AM and 6AM.
  • Authorize the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to bring an action to enjoin or seek damages or civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation. Allow any parent/guardian of a covered minor to sue for damages of up to $500 per user per incident, or actual damages, whichever is greater.

This legislation will only impact social media platforms with feeds comprised of user-generated content along with other material that the platform recommends to users based on data it collects from them. For example, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube would all be subject to this legislation.

Bill #2: The New York Child Data Protection Act

With few privacy protections in place for minors online, children are vulnerable to having their location and other personal data tracked and shared with third parties. To protect children's privacy, the New York Child Data Protection Act will prohibit all online sites from collecting, using, sharing, or selling personal data of anyone under the age of 18 for the purposes of advertising, unless they receive informed consent or unless doing so is strictly necessary for the purpose of the website. For users under 13, this informed consent must come from a parent. The bill authorizes the Office of the Attorney General to enforce the law and may enjoin, seek damages, or civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.