APCON Announces Compulsory Vetting of Social Media Adverts before Publication

Yesterday, September 2nd, 2019, the news of the APCON ad regulation hit Twitter Nigeria and caused an uproar.

Established under the now-Advertising Practitioners Registration Act Cap A7 of 2004, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) is the legislative recognition of advertising as a profession in Nigeria, and it is vested with the powers to regulate and control the practice of advertising in Nigeria, in all aspects and ramifications.

Its focus is on its vision of promoting responsible and ethical advertising practice, and acting as the conscience of society in matters of commercial communication and as a watchdog for consumers

According to a released statement from the regulatory body, everyone planning to put out an advert on social media has to ensure that all communication materials are vetted by APCON first before it is exposed to the public.

Yes, you got that right. Essentially, is that before you can post an ad on social media platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook, the ad needs to be screened by APCON first.

Twitter users reacted in an outrage to this “highly ridiculous” announcement. Here are some of the varying reactions,

Another example of regulatory overreach in Nigeria. These people never get tired. Clueless bureaucrats always want to tell Nigerian businesses what they can sand cannot do.”

“It’s nothing but a shameless revenue drive. The internet is global and APCON’s jurisdiction ends at the Nigerian border. Or are they going to ask foreign companies whose online ads reach us to get approval from them too?”

This is impossible to track. You can’t police the thousands of digital ads that people can create from the comfort of their rooms. You don’t even need an ad agency to do social ads, how will you track these thousands of amateur and technical ad creators? …”

Another Twitter user shared the link to this site, which explain the legalities and processes involved in seeking advertisement approval from APCON.

This is coming just few weeks after the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Babatunde Fowler, announced that the agency will begin to impose value-added tax (VAT) on Internet transactions both domestic and international with effect from January 2020.