NEW DELHI – In early February, politicians from India’s ruling Bharatiya Ata Anata party began posting on a social network that almost no one had heard of.
“Now I’m in Kuom,” said the Indian Minister of Commerce posted On Twitter, he has almost 10 million followers. “Join me on this Indian microblogging platform in real time for exciting, unique updates.” Millions of people, most of them supporters of BJP, backed away, և the Twitter clone became an instant hit, which was posted by more than 2 million people in the first 10 days of this month, according to the analytics company Sensor Tower.
The time was not accidental. For days, the Indian government has been embroiled in a heated row with Twitter over a legal order. block: accounts critical of the Hindu nationalist government of India, including those belonging to journalists և an investigative news magazine. In response, the Ministry of IT of India threatened Send Twitter officials to jail. In the face of a difficult situation, government officials promoted Qui as a nationalist alternative free from American influence.
The site that introduces itself as “The voice of India in Indian languagesIt’s almost like Twitter, except that Koos is limited to 400 characters, the trendy topics section is filled with state propaganda, and the logo is a yellow, not blue bird.
More worryingly, Hindu domination in Kuwait is being pushed down, and hate speech against Muslims, India’s largest minority, is flowing freely, led by some hardline government supporters.
A BJP staffer posted a poll asking her followers to choose four derogatory labels for Muslims, including “anti-national” and “jihadist dogs.” A man whose biography says he teaches at the Indian Institute of Technology, a high-tech engineering college whose graduates are popular in Silicon Valley, shared a hateful comic depicting Muslim men as members of a bloodthirsty mob. Some shared conspiracy theories that Muslims spit on people’s food to spread disease, while others shared news of crimes committed by people with Muslim names in an attempt to convert an entire religion. One man warned Muslims not to follow him and called them curses. “I hate it [them]”, – said in one of his posts.
As the world wide web fragmentsև Major platforms such as Facebook և Twitter publication against nation states և: skillfully To suppress hate speech, nationalist alternatives are beginning to be adopted, which, according to experts, is a growing trend.
“This content wants to find new homes,” Evelyn Duke, a Harvard Law School lecturer studying global online speech regulation, told BuzzFeed News. Hate speech, misinformation, harassment և promotion, which the main platforms have been struggling with for years, are especially problematic on platforms like Koo, he said, as those sites are less viewed. “Eventually, these problems come to every platform,” Duke said, “but as these alternatives increase, there may be much less attention and pressure on them.” It also creates an opportunity for a global Internet with a kind of discourse, and at the same time, completely alternative conversations will take place on national platforms. “
Kram co-founder and CEO Apramea Radhakrishna told BuzzFeed News that her site was not intended to be a vehicle for hatred or to become an ideological chamber.
“Not every content can be measured on a scale,” he said.
Radhakrishna is a Bangalore-based businessman who in 2015 sold $ 200 million to Indian Uber rival Ola. He launched Koo in March last year. Earlier this month, as downloads increased, the company stepped up $ 4.1 million from investors, including former Infosys co-founder Mohandas Pai, a vocal supporter of the Modi government.
Radhakrishna said that Koon does not have a moderate team. Instead, the platform relies on people to point out what they think is problematic content. The team only looks at pieces of content that Radhakrishna calls “exceptions.”
“Even Facebook and Twitter still determine moderation,” Radhakrishna said. “We are a 10-month-old company. We are working on our policy. ” He added that he believes that expressing thoughts is not a problem as long as it does not lead to violence.
“We will not take action against anything just because we like it,” he said. “It will be done according to the laws of the country.”
A small section entitled “Rules of Conduct” buried under the terms of the program prohibits people from posting content that “violates the privacy of others”, “hateful”, “racially” or “ethnically subjective” or “contemptuous”.
Despite that comparisons To Parler, who has positioned himself as a conservative alternative to Twitter և Facebook in the US, Radakrishna insists his app is apolitical. “We would like for anyone who wants to adopt a platform to adopt it,” he said. “Politics is not the only aspect of India. The platform is designed to express anything. ”
More than a dozen government agencies in India use now Kuo Earlier this month, the country’s IT ministry, the government’s department, jailed Twitter officials.
Inside Twitter, which ranks India as one of the fastest growing global markets, employees are watching Kui. “It’s definitely on our radars,” an anonymous employee told BuzzFeed News. “I do not know yet if it will be a threat, but we are watching.”
Radhakrishna said that the company’s home origin gives it an advantage. “We are an Indian company, we will develop our behavior in the Indian context,” he said. “It will be better than what international companies are doing, because they are guided by their domestic policies.”
Asked what he meant by “Indian context”, Radhakrishna said he did not have a specific example. “I have not come across any real-life scenarios,” he said.