Today’s world has gone digital with many people depending on social and other online media platforms for almost everything; whilst some people use these platforms to do business by meeting potential customers, others use them for religious, educational, entertainment purposes by way of meeting new people, sharing information and having fun. Some equally depend on these platforms to express their opinions about concerned issues and drive serious social change.
Due to the evolving relevance of social and other online platforms, coupled with the level of interest they have attracted over the years, there is always the tendency of the platform owners engaging in irregularities through either unfair competitions among themselves or the exploitation of users and abuse of rights; for these reasons, the European Union, the United States and others have always kept the operations of these tech giants in proper check.
They are invited at intervals to face lawmakers and explain certain developments deem offensive or an affront to the law just to protect public interest, as well as the interest of other budding online platforms whom are susceptible to undue bullying; a recent example of this was the invitation extended by the American congress to media quartet, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google to discuss their monopoly in the industry.
These tech giants were hauled before lawmakers in nearly six-hours interrogation in which Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai were made to respond to critical questions regarding claims of the use of anti-competitive methods to maintain their dominance in the tech industry. This and many others were held over the years to ensure accountability and legitimate operation.
Africa is without doubt, a very big market for these tech companies as many people from the continent are constant users of Facebook, Amazon, Google, Twitter, apple products among others; the more reason Africa needs consistent reviews by mandated organizations like the African Union (AU) to help police their operation on the continent to safeguard the interest of our people like other organizations, countries and continents do. There have been complaints from users, especially Africans of racial discrimination on some of these online platforms in the form of limitation of information flow, undue restrictions among others which demands proper investigation but the AU seem very dormant in this regard.
Once these tech companies do business in Africa, they must be held accountable to the people. The leadership of the African Union and other appropriate continental establishments need to get involved, push for fair treatment, ensure there is value for money and also take steps to interrogate and block loopholes of abuse if any exists.