Regulatory Annexation and the Matrix of Dependence: The Regulation of Social Media in Nigeria

Obia, Vincent (2023) Regulatory Annexation and the Matrix of Dependence: The Regulation of Social Media in Nigeria. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

Vincent Obia PhD Thesis published_Final version_Submitted Nov 2022_Final Award May 2023.pdf - Accepted Version

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This research addresses social media regulation targeted at users in Nigeria, while also considering issues related to the regulation and governance of social media and new media technologies across the world. This includes debates over online safety versus freedom of expression, platform power versus state influence, and structural inequalities that exist between the Global North and South in terms of the use, design, and regulation of new media technologies. The thesis centres around political economy and theoretical insights drawn from studies into internet and social media regulation, the securitisation of online harms, and practical approaches to regulating social media content. The analysis is based on a methodology that combines policy analysis, case study, interview, and social media analysis to explore how social media regulation can be understood from the standpoint of policy, politics, opposition, and alternatives. Based on these, the study argues that social media regulation in Nigeria mirrors broadcasting regulation in what I call regulatory annexation, given the matrix of dependence that relegates the Global South to regulatory decisions made by governments and platforms in the Global North.

To establish this argument, I define the matrix of dependence as Nigeria’s reliance on the West for new media regulatory outcomes of virtually any kind. Platformatisation further places Nigeria on the disadvantaged side of a balance of power with global tech platforms. The country, therefore, turns to users, intending to maintain on social media the same level of control it wields over the traditional media – a concept that I introduce for the first time as regulatory annexation. This results in the opposition that users deploy on Twitter, the central platform for activist discourse, using othering tactics that often shape state-citizen relations in Nigeria. I conclude the thesis by suggesting the need for research that expands on regulatory annexation and the matrix of dependence, focusing on the implications that they portend for regulatory interventions in other contexts, particularly in the Global South, the kind of regulation that is more likely to target users.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
23 November 2022Submitted
11 May 2023Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: Regulation, regulatory annexation, matrix of dependence, social media, new media, governance, censorship, Twitter, activism, Nigeria, Africa, Global South
Subjects: CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-05 - media studies
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham School of Media
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 24 May 2023 13:22
Last Modified: 24 May 2023 13:22

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