This year’s Worst for Children Award goes to New York for new teen digital censorship legislation (S. 7694) that threatens to degrade the online experience of teens, exposing minors to more spam and hate speech while banning algorithms that serve age-appropriate content.

The bill mandates chronological feeds over curated social media feeds, despite research showing that chronological feeds have a detrimental effect on our online experiences. In fact, Meta internal tests exposed by whistleblower Frances Haugen found that under a chronological-only feed, meaningful social interactions dropped by 20%, and users hid 50% more posts. That means that not only do our online interactions become less meaningful with a chronological feed, but we’re also exposed to more unwanted content, including untrustworthy material.

The bill actively prevents online platforms from designing age-appropriate services for minors. Online platforms use algorithms to provide a different experience for a thirteen-year-old than the experience they provide for a seventeen-year-old. Just like movie ratings restrict access to films depending on the age of a minor, algorithms tailor content by age.

But New York’s digital media bills would bar technology platforms from curating social media feeds by default, forbidding services from tailoring content to younger teens based on age inference.

Then there are the privacy violations. New York’s digital media legislation could force online platforms to identify the age of their users, a requirement that forces users to turn over personally identifiable information. In order to detect any users who are minors, platforms would need to identify the age of ALL users – a massive encroachment on individual privacy.

New York’s digital media bill also threatens a refuge for vulnerable teens. S. 7694 includes provisions that make teen access to online resources contingent on parental consent. For many teens – including those from abusive families and LGBTQ+ teens with unsupportive parents – online communities are a refuge. Under the bill, online services couldn’t help a teenager interested in coming-out-guides, bullying prevention, or dealing with family abuse – unless their parents okay it.

For all these reasons and more, New York’s S. 7694 has more than earned this year’s Worst for Children Award.