“An Indian alternative to Twitter Inc., the Koo app, which lets users send out tweet-like posts in English as well as seven Indian languages, shot to prominence after Twitter got into a weeks-long standoff with the government over blocking certain content.
Koo, whose logo of a yellow chick bears a resemblance to Twitter’s blue-and-white bird, was founded just a year ago and is a fraction the size of Twitter. During February 1-14, Koo generated 2.5 million downloads in India, an increase of 1,556% from the 151,000 installs it accumulated in the two weeks prior, according to Sensor Tower’s estimates.
Twitter’s clash with the government has echoes of its controversial decisions in the US, including the banning of Donald Trump after riots in Washington, DC. In India, the government pressed the social media company to block accounts because of farmer protests over agricultural laws that the government said included misinformation and threats to national security.
Twitter first resisted and then complied with most orders, shutting hundreds of accounts the government had flagged. However, Twitter refused to ban others, citing freedom of expression. Politicians like Mr Piyush Goyal urged followers to go to Koo which led to a 20-fold explosion in daily users Mr. Aprameya Radhakrishna, co-founder and CEO of Koo, said the start-up’s primary goal is not political at all, but rather to expand the reach of social media to a broader demographic. “”We are building for 100% of India and not just the top 1%. You may not be able to follow Elon Musk on Koo, but you can connect with Indians who speak and write in a multitude of languages.””
The country’s Supreme Court has asked the government and Twitter for input on litigation over how to curb toxic content and fake news online. Any ban on Twitter in India could hit user growth in a critical market. The sudden rise of Koo has sparked privacy concerns over its collection of personal data and security questions because one of its investors is China’s Shunwei Capital. While Koo plans to buy out the Chinese venture firm, Radhakrishna is mostly focused on building the capability to serve more users.”