NEW DELHI – In early February, politicians from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party began subscribing to a social network almost unheard of.
Indian Minister of Commerce “I am now on ko” Spread On Twitter to nearly 10 million followers. “Connect with me on this Indian microblogging platform for instant, exciting and exclusive updates.” Millions of people followed, mostly supporters of the BJP, and the Twitter clone was an instant success, with more than 2 million people installing it over 10 days earlier this month, according to app analytics company Sensor Tower.
The timing was not an accident. For days, the Indian government has been stuck in a fierce tug of war with Twitter, which is challenging the legal system of block Accounts critical of the Hindu nationalist government, including those for journalists and an investigative news magazine. In response, the Ministry of Information Technology of India Threatened To send Twitter officials to prison. Amid the confrontation, government officials promoted Koo as a nationalist alternative, free of American influence.
The site, which describes itself as “Voice of India in Hindi languagesJust like Twitter, except that ‘Koos’ is limited to 400 characters, the trending topics section is full of government propaganda, and the logo is a yellow bird, not a blue one.
Even more disturbing, in Ko, Hindu supremacy is brutal, and hate speech against Muslims, India’s largest minority, is flowing freely, driven by some of the government’s staunchest supporters.
A BJP employee published a poll asking followers to choose from four labels that denigrate Muslims, including “anti-citizens” and “jihadist dogs”. A person whose résumés say he studies at the Indian Institute of Technology, a prestigious engineering college whose alumni appeals to Silicon Valley, shared an obnoxious comic that portrays Muslim men as members of a bloodthirsty gang. Some people have shared conspiracy theories about Muslims spitting in people’s food to spread disease, while others have shared news stories of crimes committed by people with Islamic names in an attempt to tarnish an entire religion. And someone warned the Muslims of his followers and described them as insults. “I hate [them]One of his posts said.
As a global internet shrapnelAnd the mainstream platforms like Facebook and Twitter The confrontation against nation states And the in interrupted form Suppressing hate speech, national alternatives are springing up to host it, something experts say is a growing trend.
“This content wants to find new homes,” Evelyn Dweck, a Harvard Law School lecturer who studies the global regulation of online discourse, told BuzzFeed News. She said that the hate speech, disinformation, harassment, and incitement that major platforms have been grappling with for years is particularly problematic on platforms like Ko, because these sites are subject to less scrutiny. “These issues come to every platform at the end, but as these alternatives proliferate, there is likely to be much less interest and pressure on them. It also creates the possibility of a global Internet with one kind of rhetoric, and completely alternative conversations happening on national platforms,” Dweck said. In parallel. “
Aprameya Radhakrishna, co-founder and CEO of Koo, told BuzzFeed News that his site was not intended to be a vehicle of hate or designed to be an ideological resonance room.
He said, “You cannot modify every piece of content on a large scale.”
Radhakrishna is a Bangalore-based businessman who sold a transportation services startup to Ola, Uber’s rival in India, in 2015 for $ 200 million. Koo launched in March of last year. Earlier this month, as downloads spiked, the company increased $ 4.1 million Of investors, including former Infosys co-founder Mohandas Pai, a staunch supporter of the Modi government.
Radhakrishna said Kuo does not have a moderation team. Instead, the platform relies on people to report content that they think is problematic. The team only looks at bits of content that Radhakrishna calls “exceptions.”
“Even Facebook and Twitter are still looking for moderation,” Radakrishna said. “We are a 10-month-old company. We are working on our policies.” He added that he believed expressing ideas was not a problem until it led to violence.
He said, “We will never take action against something just because we feel it.” “It will be taken on the basis of the laws of the earth.”
A small section entitled “Rules and Behavior” buried in the terms and conditions of the application prevents people from posting content that “violates the privacy of others,” “incites hatred,” “racist”, “racially objectionable”, or “offensive”.
despite of Comparisons For Parler, which has positioned itself as a conservative alternative to Twitter and Facebook in the US, Radhakrishna insists his app is apolitical. “We would love for anyone to adopt the stage,” he said. “Politics is not the only side of India. The platform is designed to express and express anything.”
More than a dozen Indian government departments Are now used Tadalafil Earlier this month, the country’s Ministry of Information Technology, the government department that had threatened Twitter officials with jail, released a statement on Koo expressing its displeasure with Twitter hours before it posted the same statement on Twitter, the administration’s preferred platform for official announcements.
Inside Twitter, which counts India among the world’s fastest-growing markets, employees keep an eye on Koo. “It’s definitely on our radar,” one employee, who requested anonymity, told BuzzFeed News. “I don’t know yet if it will pose a threat, but we are watching that.”
Radhakrishna said the company’s local assets gave it an edge. “We are an Indian company and we will frame our behavior in an Indian context,” he said. “It would be better than what international companies do because they are also guided by their domestic policies that have been laid out.”
When asked what he meant by “Indian context,” Radhakrishna said he had no concrete examples. “I did not deal with any real scenario,” he said.