Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday tweeted about joining homegrown Twitter alternative Koo. The new development comes in the midst of a tussle between the government and Twitter over content censorship during the ongoing farmers’ protest in India. Launched in March last year, Koo is a Twitter-like microblogging experience in Indian languages. The app won the government’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self reliant) app challenge last year – which was meant to encourage local app development. Similar to Twitter, Koo allows users to follow individuals. It also allows users to write messages in text or record and share them in audio or video formats.
“I am now on Koo,” tweeted Cabinet Minister Piyush Goyal, who holds the charge of Commerce and Industry, Railways, Consumer Affairs, and Food and Public Distribution. “Connect with me on this Indian micro-blogging platform for real-time, exciting and exclusive updates. Let us exchange our thoughts and ideas on Koo.”
Apart from Goyal, Koo has other politicians on board including the Minister of Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad and Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa. It also has the accounts of various government ministries and departments, such as the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), Central Board of Indirect Taxes (CBIC), National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT), India Post, MyGovIndia, Digital India, and National Informatics Centre (NIC), among others.
Koo was amongst the four apps that were called out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his radio programme Mann Ki Baat (Inner Thoughts). Several followers of the Prime Minister — including the ones who have been followed by him on Twitter — have also joined to app recently.
Apart from Koo, another Indian alternative to Twitter, called Tooter, also garnered a lot of attention last year, but these alternatives remained fairly small.
However, this could be changing now — the minister’s tweet comes days after the government reportedly warned Twitter about a penal action for non-compliance of its order regarding the removal of certain content and accounts related to farmers’ protest. There are some users who have been arguing for the need for an Indian alternative to Twitter and saying that the PM and his followers should leave the platform.
The government also reportedly told Twitter platform to remove over 1,000 accounts that is said were spreading misinformation and provocative content on the months long agitation.
This situation seems to have helped Koo to gain some popularity among Indian users. The app is available for both Android and iOS users in English, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu. It lets users write messages in up to 400 characters that are called “Koo”. In addition to text messages, the Koo app also provides the ability to share links as well as record and share audio and video messages.
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