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Nigerian Watchdog sues Meta: The bullish Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria is taking on the US internet giant shortly after making the decision to forbid international actors and voice actors from appearing in Nigerian advertisements.
The US internet giant Meta is being sued by Nigeria’s advertising regulator for N30 billion (the equivalent of $70 million), according to the lawsuit, which claims that the services carry advertisements on Facebook and Instagram without proper vetting and approval from the authorities.
According to the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON), it has filed a lawsuit against Meta Platforms Incorporated and its representative AT3 Resources Limited before the Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria.
According to the regulator, not making sure that advertisements are reviewed and approved is “illegal, unlawful, and a violation of current advertising Law in Nigeria” and has cost the federal government money.
“Meta Incorporated has continued to display prohibited advertisements on [its] platforms, and ARCON is requesting 30 Billion Naira in sanctions for the infringement of the advertising regulations and for lost revenue as a result. In a statement, ARCON reaffirmed that it would not tolerate unethical or careless advertising in Nigeria’s advertising space.
Crackdown against foreign advertising
The lawsuit is ARCON’s most recent aggressive step after it started to tighten down on foreign advertising recently. In an effort to promote native talent and the regional advertising business, the regulator declared in August that Nigeria will make history by making an attempt to outlaw imported models and voiceover actors from advertisements.
The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria “banned the use of foreign models and voice-over artists on any advertisement targeted or exposed on the Nigerian advertising space with effect from October 1, 2022, in accordance with the Federal Government’s policy of developing local talent, inclusive economic growth, and the need to take necessary steps and actions aimed at growing the Nigerian advertising industry. Only Nigerian voice actors and models are to be used in all advertisements and marketing communications materials, according to a statement from director-general Olalekan Fadolapo.
This is only the most recent in a string of protectionist measures that have come to characterize President Muhammadu Buhari’s attitude to the economy.
The most recent lawsuit against social networking companies doing business in Nigeria is brought forth by ARCON, to which Meta and AT3 Resources Limited have not yet made a public response.
The Twitter ban is a precursor
After seven months, Nigeria removed its ban on the popular US social media platform Twitter in January.
After the site removed a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari threatening retribution for those responsible for attacks on government institutions, the initial suspension was imposed the next day.
According to reports, in order to reopen, Twitter had consented to establish a local office, name a country head, and pay domestic taxes.
The advertising regulator insists that it is regulating advertising communications rather than Meta’s right to operate in the online media space despite Nigeria’s complicated history with social media, claiming that it is “not regulating the online media space but rather advertisements, advertising and marketing communications on the online platforms in accordance with its establishment Act.”