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Twitter’s India Clash Buoys Local Rival Koo to 10 Million Users

  • The 16-month-old app lets people post in local languages
  • Twitter clashed with government over multiple issues

Koo, India’s alternative to Twitter Inc., has surged past 10 million users to narrow the gap with the U.S. microblogging site after its repeated clashes with the local government over the past few months. 

The 16-month-old app, which allows users to send tweet-like posts in English and seven Indian languages such as Hindi and Kannada, has seen about 85% of its users join since February, when Twitter’s disputes with the Modi administration escalated. Government ministers, opposition politicians, cricket stars and Bollywood celebrities have since begun posting in Indian languages on Koo.  

Its San Francisco rival, which had 17.5 million monthly users earlier this year in India, complied with the new government rules this month after appointing new India-based executives, including one to handle compliance.
 
“We came into the limelight because of Twitter’s tension with the government, but users soon realized they can express in their mother tongue only on Koo,” said Aprameya Radhakrishna, co-founder and chief executive officer of the Bangalore-headquartered app whose formal names is Bombinate Technologies Pvt. “Our app connects English-speaking India to non-English speaking India in a country with 700 million internet users and that’s powerful.”