Homegrown microblogging platform Koo may have had some 30 million downloads in the last two years since its launch and offering services in nine regional languages, but it lacks the vibrancy of Twitter when it comes to debates on current affairs. The platform, which came to light a year ago when the Union government was locked in a tiff with Twitter over new intermediary guidelines, does boast of a host of central ministers and government departments as its members, but the Opposition parties are conspicuous by their absence. Even prominent India Inc personalities are not present on this homegrown platform.
Prominent Opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, among others, who are quite active on Twitter, have no presence on Koo. Similarly, corporate bigwigs like Anand Mahindra and Harsh Goenka, who routinely share updates on Twitter, are missing on the local platform. Even civil society activists who have differing views with the government are missing.
As per information shared by Koo, it has over 7,000 eminent accounts, including those of national and regional parties across the political spectrum, Union ministers, chief ministers, various government departments, Union ministries, chief electoral officers, Opposition leaders and various public sector undertakings like Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). In fact, 50% of the elected representatives from a state like Uttar Pradesh are on Koo, the company said.
The platform said its multi-lingual outlook has enabled eminent personalities and government representatives to reach out to users from across the country, including those in remote locations, establish a connection and share updates on a real-time basis in the local languages. According to it, the platform’s language-first and India-first approach has made government representatives share updates exclusively on Koo. For instance, recently, communications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw used Koo first to inform about the successful 5G trials at IIT Madras.
On its part, Koo defends its positioning. The company says that its target audience is quite different from Twitter as it is targeted at the non-english speaking population who reside in smaller towns and cities. The core proposition of multilingual expression carries a lot of significance in a multilingual country like India where over 90% of the population speaks a native language, the company says. Moreover, India as a market will soon have 900 million internet users, a vast majority of who would include speakers of native languages, thereby presenting a huge untapped opportunity for Koo, the company maintains.
The company says that it has enabled self-verification of users, thus fixing accountability. “The move promotes responsible user behaviour, since verified accounts are likely to be more careful about what they post. Moreover, by promoting authenticity and restricting anonymity, it can enhance trust and safety on the platform,” Koo said.