Saturday, September 18, 2021
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Twitter’s tension with government pushes Koo up to the ladder

The 16-month-old app, which allows users to send tweet-like posts in English and seven Indian languages has seen about 85% of its users join since February

Homegrown social media platform, Koo which competes with global giant, Twitter has witnessed a surge in the number of people joining its platform and at present is reported to have as many as over 10 million users. The gap between the number of users has narrowed since the US microblogging site took on the Indian government over new IT rules over the past few months.

The 16-month-old app, which allows users to send tweet-like posts in English and seven Indian languages such as Hindi and Kannada, has seen about 85 per cent of its users join since February when Twitter’s disputes with the Modi administration escalated.

Government ministers, opposition politicians, cricket stars and Bollywood celebrities have since begun posting in Indian languages on Koo. Its San Francisco rival, which had 17.5 million monthly users earlier this year in India, complied with the new government rules this month after appointing new India-based executives, including one to handle compliance.

The American social media network has repeatedly clashed with India’s government over the content on its platform. In one example, Twitter at first resisted removing hundreds of posts critical of Prime Minister government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis, while labelling posts by ruling party officials as misleading. Police then visited its offices.

Earlier a court ruled the company was in ‘total non-compliance with the country‘s new information technology rules. Earlier this month, Twitter buckled and told the court that it will fully comply with the rules. That included naming an India-based point person for handling compliance and grievance issues.

Tussles between authorities and another social media giant, Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp, over India’s new internet rules continue in the court. Koo, which has benefited from the controversies and from first-time internet users who post in local languages, is targeting 100 million users in a year, Radhakrishna said.

Meanwhile, Koo, the Indian startup plans to expand in Southeast Asia, Africa, South America and Eastern Europe, into countries where English is not the dominant language.

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