Nigeria’s Advertising Regulatory Council (ARCON) has filed a lawsuit against Meta Platforms (owners of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) and its agent, AT3 Resources Limited at the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division seeking penalties to the tune of 30 billion naira (about US$69.4 million).
The Nigerian advertising industry regulator is seeking a declaration among other things that the continued publication and exposure of various adverts directed at the Nigerian market through Facebook and Instagram by Meta Platforms without ensuring the same is vetted and approved before exposure is illegal, unlawful and a violation of the extant advertising Law in Nigeria.
ARCON stated that Meta’s continued exposure of unvetted adverts had also led to loss of revenue to the Federal Government.
They are therefore seeking N30billion in sanctions for the violation of the advertising laws and for loss of revenue as a result of Meta’s continued exposure of unapproved adverts on its platforms.
A statement from the regulator said, “ARCON reiterates that it would not permit unethical and irresponsible advertising on the Nigeria’s advertising space.”
According to ARCON, the Council is not regulating the online media space, but it has a mandate to regulate advertising and marketing communications on the online platforms in line with its establishment Act.
Lessons for Ghana and others
This lawsuit is possible because earlier this year the Nigerian government compelled global tech giants and social media platforms to register and open local offices in Nigeria so that they can be properly regulated by local regulators.
The global big tech firms, particularly Meta, are notorious for violating regulations and even users’ rights in their bid to innovate and to make more money. In recent times, billions of dollars-worth of fines have been slapped on platforms like Meta, Google, Apple and others in mainly the west for such violation.
But regulators in African countries have not been able to protect national and public interest against blatant violations by these global tech giants, arguably because they have no local offices in Africa even though they have very huge following on the continent, of which they take full advantage.
Nigeria has led the way and it is expected that other African countries like Ghana will take a lesson and do what is right by the people.