Hi there. It’s Brady again.
It isn’t every day that you see multiple high-level government officials endorsing a social media platform, but that’s precisely what happened with Twitter’s competitor in India, Koo.
The plugs started when Twitter refused the Indian government’s blocking orders for hundreds of accounts that were critical of the country’s farm laws. Twitter had to make a choice: retain space for free speech or risk its employees’ safety after the Modi administration said it may punish Twitter’s staff in India with fines and prison sentences of up to seven years. Eventually, Twitter relented.
Several ministers tweeted to tell their followers to abandon Twitter and follow them to Koo. Downloads for the app skyrocketed.
My colleague in Bengaluru, Avanish, retraced the rise of Koo, from its roots in a platform that is like Quora, to its Twitteresque branding—a yellow, cartoonish avian logo and a name drawn from the cuckoo’s call. While Koo plays up its feature for users to express themselves in their own languages, even Koo’s international expansion to Nigeria is based on the country’s ban on the blue bird.
In any case, investors are pouring cash into Koo. They see appeal in the anti-Twitter that functions much like Twitter, but is more in tune with local rhythms and the whims of public officials. With more and more people coming online in emerging economies, can platforms like Facebook and Twitter stay ahead of local upstarts?
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