Koo, India’s alternative to Twitter Inc., has surpassed 10 million users to bridge the gap with the American microblogging site after its repeated clashes with the local government in recent months.
The 16-month-old app, which allows users to send tweets in English and seven Indian languages like Hindi and Kannada, has seen 85% of its users join since February, when Twitter disputes with the administration of Modi. intensified. Since then, government ministers, opposition politicians, cricket stars, and Bollywood celebrities have started posting in Indian languages on Koo.
Its San Francisco rival, which had 17.5 million monthly users earlier this year in India, complied with new government rules this month after appointing new India-based executives, including one to handle compliance.
“We came into the limelight because of Twitter’s tension with the government, but users soon realized that they can only express themselves in their native language on Koo,” said Aprameya Radhakrishna, co-founder and CEO of the based app. in Bangalore whose formal names is Bombinate Technologies Pvt. “Our application connects English-speaking India with non-English speaking India in a country with 700 million Internet users and that is powerful.”
The American social media network has repeatedly clashed with the Indian government over the content on its platform. In one example, Twitter initially resisted removing hundreds of posts criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government handling of the Covid-19 crisis, while calling posts by ruling party officials misleading. Later, the police visited their offices. A court in India ruled that the company was in “total breach” of the country’s new information technology rules.
Earlier this month, Twitter relented and told the court that it will fully comply with the rules. That included appointing an India-based contact person to handle compliance issues and complaints.
Disputes between the authorities and another social media giant, Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp, over India’s new internet rules continue in court.
Koo, which has benefited from controversies and from first-time internet users posting in local languages, targets 100 million users in a year, Radhakrishna said. The startup plans to expand in Southeast Asia, Africa, South America and Eastern Europe, in countries where English is not the dominant language.
“An Indian social media startup is taking on a global giant and has a high chance of winning,” he said.