APCON unperturbed as outrage greets proposal to vet social media adverts

The recent decision by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) to extend its regulatory oversight to cover the social media advertising is already generating reactions from Nigerian social media users.

According to a statement released by the regulatory body, everyone planning to put out an advert on social media has to ensure that such materials are vetted by APCON first before it is exposed to the public, just as it is done for traditional media.

Meanwhile, as the reactions pour in, APCON is not oblivious of what Nigerians are saying about the proposal. In an exclusive chat with MARKETING EDGE, the Acting Registrar of APCON said that the agency was taking note of reactions to the social media advertising vetting and insisted that, nonetheless, it was determined to go through with the policy.

“We have seen it and my team is working on it. It’s our mandate to vet everything and that’s what we’re trying to do,” she said.

APCON is the governing body that monitors and ensures ethical advertising practice in Nigeria. According to Ijedi Iyoha, the Acting Registrar of the council, “Article 21 and 80 (a) of the Nigerian Code of Advertising Practice, Sales Promotion and Other Rights Restrictions of Practice” quoted in the directive means that APCON’s mandate covers all areas of advertising, including those deployed online.

“We have a mandate to regulate advertising in all its aspects and ramifications, including online.  And now that we have started with social media, it is not anything new; it’s just that we didn’t emphasise it right from time,” she told Techpoint.

Twitter and other social media users have reacted to this announcement in outrage and said it is “ridiculous” for APCON to vet every single social media advert before it can be allowed to be shared online.

Some of the comments noted that APCON’s move was typical of Nigerian regulatory agencies who are more obsessed with growing their internally generated revenue that they are about providing policy frameworks that encourage stability and growth.

According to one Dusten Truce on Tweeter, “This is a very hilarious move from an organisation that does nothing for advertising. All they know to do is to collect money.”

Another tweeter user, Mayowa Oluwatomi, described it as a regulatory overreach. “These people never get tired. Always wanting to tell Nigerian businesses what they can and cannot do.”

Dotun Ademola was more concerned about the fact that such policy could have a detrimental effect on SMEs that occupy the bottom rung of the ladder, who need government support rather than another layer of tax burden.

Interestingly, not all the social media comment were negative. Some were supportive and insisted that some oversight was needed to curb possible chaos. “Ideally every ad should go through the vetting process before getting on any platform. So this seems in order,” said a tweeter user who goes by the name MoPeeTee.


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