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Hochul signs law to regulate kids’ social media feeds, while poll shows her popularity sinking

This stock photo shows children using their smartphones.
Adobe Stock
This stock photo shows children using their smartphones.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation Thursday that will regulate how children use social media.

Hochul championed the bills, making them her top priority in the final days of the legislative session.

“Today, we save our children,” Hochul said. “We have heard their cries for help reminding us as adults that we have a moral responsibility to protect young New Yorkers from harm.”

The measures make it illegal for big tech companies to use algorithms on the social media feeds of children younger than 18 and prohibit social media companies from overnight push notifications unless their parents consent to the practice.

The second law bans the companies from collecting and selling children’s personal data without parental permission.

Studies have shown that increased use of social media among children is linked to higher incidents of depression, anxiety, and even suicide.

Meanwhile, a new poll by Siena College finds that New Yorkers overwhelmingly agree with the social media regulations for children.

They also like the governor’s surprise decision to pull a congestive pricing program in New York City that was to have taken effect at the end of the month.

But Siena pollster Steve Greenberg said those views do not translate into increased support by for Hochul among potential voters.

“They’re the worst they've ever been,” Greenberg said.

He said 38% of voters view Hochul favorably, while 49% view her unfavorably.

“(She’s) underwater by 11 points,” he said. “It's the largest she's ever been underwater since she's been governor.”

Greenberg said 44% approve of the job that Hochul is doing in office, compared to 50% who don’t. Those scores are also the lowest she’s had since becoming governor nearly three years ago.

Greenberg said independents are shifting away from Democrats and leaning more toward Republicans. And he said there’s a general sense of unease and dissatisfaction on other issues like crime, the influx of migrants into the state, inflation, and the future of democracy.

And he said more than half of New Yorkers think the state and the country are headed in the wrong direction. That translates into lack of confidence in the person who is leading the state.

“They are concerned about a lot of issues,” Greenberg said. “But right now, more than anything, they're cranky and they don't feel that their needs are being addressed.”

Democratic President Joe Biden, in blue New York, is leading his Republican opponent, former President Doanld Trump, by just eight points. Biden won against Trump in New York by over 20 points four years ago.

Hochul’s opponents pounced on the numbers. New York Conservative Party Chair Gerry Kassar said in a statement that the poll shows Hochul is a “failed governor” and that “change needs to be made at the White House.”

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.