The app's name means 'chirp' in Hindi
The social media app Koo is quickly gaining popularity in India, and it is beginning to rival US-made app Twitter.
Koo was launched in March 2020 and founded by business management graduates Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka.
The app has also won the Aatmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge, a government award given for driving tech innovation.
In 2020, Koo was given a special mention from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a monthly radio press.
Now the app has gained prominence after the Indian government used it to respond to rival-app Twitter in an altercation over free speech.
This is a crucial time for Koo to be pitted against Twitter, as the Indian government and Twitter have been sparring recently over free speech on social media platforms.
Tensions rose between Twitter and the Modi government after Twitter declared that it would not comply with their order for the removal of almost 1,200 accounts.
This was due to posts on the ongoing farmers’ protest in India.
Twitter’s declaration came in a blog post on Wednesday, February 10, 2021.
The post says that it would make some accounts inaccessible in India. However, the social media platform will not act against the accounts of journalists, activists and politicians.
Free speech concerns were also cited in the post.
The Ministry of Information, Electronics and Technology responded to Twitter’s blog post via Koo, saying that the IT secretary was to “engage with senior management of Twitter”.
They also described the company initiating this meeting with a public statement as “unusual”.
Soon after this, members and supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) began to promote Koo online as a local alternative to Twitter.
Commerce minister Piyush Goyal and Madhya Pradesh’s Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan have already joined the homegrown platform.
What is Koo?
Koo is an Indian social media app modelled on Twitter, and Koo’s key features are also inspired by the social media giant.
The app’s name means ‘chirp’ in Hindi, and it also has a bird for a logo. However, the bird is yellow and has no wings.
The app allows users to input hashtags and the ‘@’ symbol for mentions, and a user can ‘re-koo’ a post made on the platform to share it themselves.
Koo users have the option to ‘koo’ in five Indian languages including English.
The app also has a 400 character limit, whereas Twitter currently has a 280 character limit.
According to reports, Koo has more than three million users already. The number of downloads has surged following its promotion from the Indian government.
However, Prime Minister Modi is yet to join the platform, despite his endorsement. He has two official platforms on Twitter, with over 100 million followers across both.
The US-born platform currently has over 17.5 million users in India.
Therefore, despite the surge in downloads, Koo still seems to be eating Twitter’s dust.