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How Twitter’s battle with India is boosting its local rival, Koo

When Twitter banned former US President Donald Trump from its platform, a number of his supporters flocked to Parler, a social network that became home to right-wingers.

But after multiple calls for violence and privacy leaks, it was booted out of Google Play Store, Apple App Store, and even Amazon’s cloud services in January. Gaining traction at launch was all for naught as it faced the consequences of hosting problematic content.

On the other side of the planet, India is also trying to promote a local alternative to Twitter called Koo. This happened after the Silicon Valley company didn’t comply with a government order and restored a few accounts — including publications, activists, and actors — after blocking them briefly. Authorities later criticized the social network’s actions and even threatened with penal actions.

As the world moves towards the Splinternet, India’s trying to define its own versions through local laws and promoting homegrown apps. In this story, we’ll take a look at Twitter’s fight with India’s government, Koo’s opportunity to take advantage of that, and what challenges it could face by trying to rely on its nationalistic ties.

Twitter and India

Despite being a smaller social network than the likes of Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, Twitter has always generated a lot of conversation globally, thanks to high-profile personalities posting announcements and breaking news on the platform, from world leaders to business bigwigs.

The platform has been proactive in taking action against users violating its terms of service in the US — at least for the past year or so. But its actions in India have often been slow and culturally out of context.

India is an important market for the social networking platform, with more than 17 million monthly active users.

Twitter has had its controversial moments in the past in India. In 2018, when CEO Jack Dorsey visited India, he held up a poster — that addressed a controversial issue of castes — that some Indians found offensive. The company later had to apologize for it.