Updated: February 11, 2021 7:42:20 pm
Responding to parallels being drawn between the microblogging platform Koo App — an India-made alternative of Twitter — and US-based alt-tech social networking site Parler, the startup’s co-founder and CEO, Aprameya Radhakrishna, said Koo was an open platform and has people of all ideologies joining it. In an interview with Pranav Mukul, he also talked about the platform’s content moderation policy and the sudden surge in downloads it has witnessed after various Central government ministers and politicians promoted the app. Excerpts:
The app witnessed a crash on Wednesday. Did more traffic come your way than expected?
Aprameya Radhakrishna: We never expected this kind of surge. We were building at a pace we knew we were growing. This has been a pleasant surprise. The team is on it. We are trying to make sure that nothing happens and all users get a great experience. Fact of the matter is that we are a 10-month-old company and have a very small team, and, we didn’t expect this. Half of our 3 million downloads have come since January.
There are comparisons being made between Koo and Parler. Does the fact that it’s being promoted by ministers and politicians of the ruling party impact the platform’s neutrality?
Aprameya Radhakrishna: I think we are an open platform. We welcome everyone to come and join. For example, in Kannada, we have people irrespective of ideology joining us. From the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister to Deve Gowda, HD Kumaraswamy and DK Shivakumar, all are on our platform. That already shows that we are an open platform and want everyone to express and we want to be a reflection of the true India.
One thing Twitter has constantly been criticised for is the content it does and does not moderate. What are Koo’s content moderation policies?
Aprameya Radhakrishna: Right now, we have not needed intense moderation, but we have technology in place to alert us about any keywords that are harmful to the society — self harm, incitement of violence — we are making sure we are on top of it.
At all points in time, we want to encourage freedom of speech but if it goes against the law of the land, we will have to take necessary action.
You mentioned the Chinese investor in your company Shunwei Capital is on the verge of an exit. Does it have something to do with geopolitical tensions between India and China?
Aprameya Radhakrishna: When we raised capital from them, it was two-and-a-half years ago and everything was alright. Now that we’ve really gone into our mission of enabling the voice of India and further capital is not allowed from neighbouring countries, there is no point in having somebody from the past. They are already on their way out as we speak.
To whom is Shunwei Capital selling its stake?
Aprameya Radhakrishna: That is still confidential. The valuation will be decided based on the last round but who is buying is yet to be decided.
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