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Lawmaker Wants Regulation Of Social Media, Saying Users Are Addicted

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- From news content to entertainment, social media has transformed the way we live and work.

According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of American adults use at least one social media site, compared to just 5% in 2005. Ninety percent of users are between the ages of 18 and 29, and YouTube is the most popular site, followed by Facebook.

A U.S. senator says tech firms are engineering their platforms to create social media addiction. He wants regulation and perhaps the end of certain features on some sites, CBS2's Tony Aiello says.

From pretty pictures to funny videos, it's easy to find yourself spending hours scrolling Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

"Way too addictive. People just can't get off it. It's a crisis, honestly," Joe Buell, of Sheepshead Bay, said.

Industry insiders say apps are designed to hook users.

"There's a whole bunch of techniques that are deliberately used to keep the autoplay watching on YouTube to keep you watching the next video or streaks on Snapchat to keep kids hooked, so they feel like they have to keep this streak going," former Google executive Tristan Harris said.

Missouri Republican Josh Hawley agrees and is now targeting social media sites for regulation. Hawley says the average user spends more than two hours a day texting and using social media sites, up 56% since 2012.

"Addiction is actually the point. That's what social media shareholders are investing in. They are investing in the addiction of users," Hawley said.

Hawley wants federal agencies to draw up rules banning certain features, such as "Snapstreak" on Snapchat and endless scrolling with no stopping point.

He also wants tools allowing users to track and cap the time they spend on any site.

Should the feds regulate social media?

"I don't know if they have to. It's not ruining my life," Norwalk resident Colin Caperelli said. "Younger kids, if it's ruining their concentration or affecting them in school, then possibly, yeah."

Industry group the Internet Association says research is inconclusive and there's a lack of evidence to back up Hawley's claim that social media is addictive.

So far, few other lawmakers have signed on to his proposal, so your endless scroll and autoplay are safe for now.

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