A significant step forward in the regulation of online content in Côte d’Ivoire was taken this week with the signing of the Social Network Charter by some thirty bloggers. This project, supported by the High Authority for Audiovisual Communication, aims to provide a framework for opinion leaders, bloggers and influencers in a country where the absence of an official status for these digital players has raised concerns and questions.
Last year, the adoption of a law requiring all digital communications produced by individuals with more than 25,000 subscribers to be regulated had sparked mixed reactions among Ivorian bloggers. Often considered pioneers in their field, bloggers were confronted with new rules that subjected them to the same constraints as audiovisual producers. The signing of this Social Network Charter is a step forward in clarifying the expectations and responsibilities of these digital players.
Similar to a code of ethics for influencers and Internet users, the Social Network Charter comprises seven fundamental principles. These include respect for the accuracy of information, transparency in commercial partnerships, and respect for personal data. It has been signed by 35 bloggers considered pioneers by the HACA.
René Bourgoin, Chairman of the High Authority for Audiovisual Communication, underlines the importance of this Charter, pointing out that sanctions are provided for in the event of infringement: « There are certain aspects of this Charter that lean towards the penal aspects. When the criminal nature of an offence is obvious, the public prosecutor can intervene and initiate proceedings.
For bloggers, signing the Charter is of the utmost importance. It provides a guarantee of credibility, while addressing their concerns about the regulation of their activity. Cherif Tall, who runs two blogs on politics and society on a voluntary basis, expresses his concerns: « Influencers, bloggers and others have no official status in Côte d’Ivoire. They think that a classification should already be put in place, and also that we should be able to protect them, so to speak. »
The need for such regulation was demonstrated recently, last May, when the Ministry of Health had to intervene to reprimand an influencer who had given incorrect advice on the use of a drug. The Ivorian authorities have therefore understood the urgency of working closely with certain digital platforms to remove content deemed dangerous.
The signature of the Côte d’Ivoire Social Network Charter represents a crucial step in the regulation of the digital space, aimed at protecting the rights of Internet users and making digital players more accountable. It testifies to the authorities’ determination to guarantee a safer and more transparent online environment for all. What remains now is to closely monitor the Charter’s implementation and its impact on the Ivorian digital landscape.