Indian social media platform Koo has been launched in Nigeria. With the west African country as a base, it plans to expand into other countries.
Speaking exclusively with India Narrative, Koo founder, Aprameya Radhakrishna said: "We are presently English-enabled since a significant population of Nigeria speaks English. We will be adding the major local languages as options soon."
A few days back Radhakrishna had tweeted: "A very warm welcome to the official handle of the Government of Nigeria on @kooindia! Spreading wings beyond India now." He tagged co-founder Mayank Bidawatka with a smiley at @mayankbidawatka.
Mentioning their expansion plans, he added: "We are looking to hire Nigerians in India and later on in Nigeria as well." Talking about the spread of the platform, Radhakrishna said: "We have gone live in most countries across the world even today. The languages are Indian, therefore, Indians from across the globe connect on Koo."
Radhakrishna had earlier said that Nigeria is similar to India in terms of diversity with its hundreds of regional languages. "Koo has a global outlook and will enable micro-blogging in countries that need it the most. We have built a scalable platform, and while we are still enhancing the product, it’s already available for use in multiple countries today.”
The Indian social media platform got the opportunity to kick-off its operations in Nigeria after Twitter's spat with the government and its indefinite suspension. The Nigerian government imposed an indefinite ban on Twitter last week after it deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari, where he had threatened punishment for separatist groups in the country's civil war.
The Nigerian government accused the US social media giant of double standards. Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said that the micro-blogging platform has persistently undermined Nigeria's corporate existence. Then the government decided to put a stop to its operations.
Koo was co-founded by techpreneurs—Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidwatka. It became popular with Indian users almost immediately after its launch in early 2020. Now a number of government departments—the Press Information Bureau, the IT Ministry, India Post, and many others are on the platform. BJP politicians and ministers—Baijant Panda, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan, switched over to Koo in the aftermath of a Twitter standoff with the Indian government during the farmers’ protests.
Currently, Koo is valued at over $100 million. It rose to prominence last year when it won the government’s Atmanirbhar App Innovation Challenge. That was also the time when Indian sentiment was raging against Chinese apps because of the Galwan Valley clashes where scores of Indian and Chinese soldiers lost their lives.
Though Nigeria is the first African country to ban twitter, the platform is banned in China, North Korea and Iran. In the case of China, though the government has banned it for the Chinese people, the State-owned media and the government use it widely to spread their views.
Twitter had suspended Donald Trump's account in January 2021 while he was the US president. It banned his account after Trump's right-wing supporters indulged in violence and caused mayhem on Capitol Hill. In a statement, Twitter said that continuation of his account could lead to “the risk of further incitement of violence”.
Another noteworthy ban by Twitter was of Katie Hopkins, a British commentator, whose account was permanently suspended in June 2020. Hopkins had a million followers and had numerous run-ins with the platform.
Twitter was faced with another controversy last year when former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had tweeted, "Muslims have a right to be angry and kill millions of French people". He had put out the tweet from his verified handle on October 30, 2020 as part of a series of tweets as he railed against the West over its treatment of Muslims.
Though Twitter did not ban the Malaysian leader for openly giving a call for killings, it removed the controversial tweet within a few hours.