Are India-made social media apps a currency of exchange for the central government?

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There is talk of social media apps made in India at a time when tech giants are being pushed back



Mathure Paul

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Posted 06.06.21, 00:09 AM


We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I’ll be in touch with you soon. This is a line from former US President Barack Obama’s email shortly after he gave his 2008 victory speech. It was sort of a coming-of-age story for new technologies in the United States. The man’s campaign has changed the way political candidates address voters. By the time Obama won, he had also won over users on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, all of which are two-way communication tools. Even before he was sworn in, his administration’s website, Change.gov, was up and running.

If you are wondering where this is leading, support us with the next paragraph. Obama followed George W. Bush under whose administration a major change had begun. Facebook was making Orkut obsolete, Twitter was growing, YouTube was on Google’s acquisition list, the seeds of WhatsApp were about to be sown, and Google was becoming the darling of every other internet user. Digital awareness has never stayed the same, which Donald Trump took advantage of years later, making the digital world more of a ‘if you’re not with me, you’re against me’ place.

And things are moving fast. A number of new digital platforms are emerging in India that will shape how many interact and be allowed to interact. Some of these start-ups are attractive because of the way they approach India’s many languages ​​and, at the same time, turn out to have encouraging prospects as the Indian government tests the patience of established tech giants. Are they long term?

The players

On the one hand, the image of Delhi police visiting Twitter offices, days after the microblogging site described as “media manipulated” a message from BJP leader Sambit Patra or one from WhatsApp moving the High Delhi Court to challenge the New Computer Rules Center. And on the other, the approval of Kangana Ranaut, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Piyush Goyal of new platforms. Take the example of Koo, who won accolades in the Atma Nirbhar App Innovation Challenge last year. The Indian version of Twitter – along with other India-made apps – found the limelight shortly after the Indian government banned a slew of apps with Chinese links on national security grounds. While Kangana Ranaut’s Twitter account was permanently suspended for repeated rule violations, particularly her “Hateful and Abusive Behavior” policy, Koo welcomed her, allowing her to share her opinion on the site “with pride”.

There are more apps on the horizon. Kutumb is a Reddit-style platform for Hindi-speaking users and is said to be in talks with Tiger Global, a major investor in the Indian startup ecosystem. Sharechat is a vernacular social media platform. Chingari, Mitron and Moj relate to short videos, which attempt to fill the void left by the TikTok ban.

This is all happening at a time when India’s social media user base is growing rapidly, which Statista says is expected to grow from 376 million in 2020 to 447 million in 2023, while the number of internet users is expected to rise from 696 million. in 2020 to 974 m in 2025.

Global push

Not just in India, the United States is also seeing an increase in platforms other than Facebook, Twitter, and Google. There is Parler, Gab, Dlive and others. Talking was banned by Google and Apple after violent protests on Capitol Hill earlier this year, but it has now reverted to Apple.

Recently, Florida became the first U.S. state to regulate the way companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter moderate online speech, imposing fines on social media companies that permanently ban political candidates in the state. The New York Times says it’s a direct response to former US President Donald J. Trump’s Facebook and Twitter bans in January. While the bill likely faces a constitutional challenge, it is certainly a push by conservative state legislatures to clamp down on the ability of tech companies to manage posts on their platforms.

Facebook is now taking a more serious look at accounts belonging to politicians. On Friday, the company said Donald J. Trump’s suspension from service would last for at least two years, effectively preventing the former president from accessing mainstream social media for the 2022 midterm election. also said it would end a policy of treating politicians’ posts differently from other users.

Big tech companies are feeling the wrath of governments around the world. In Russia, Roskomnadzor, which is the country’s internet regulator, is asking the Silicon Valley giants to remove online content it deems illegal or restore blocked pro-Kremlin material. Facebook, Twitter and others must locate their Russian user databases by July 1 or face fines. In Belarus, the government has banned live broadcasts of unauthorized protests. Poland has proposed a law on social media “freedom of expression” to prevent social media platforms from removing content or banning users, which is indirect support for

Donald trump

Donald Trump.

But can new start-ups last for a long time? The curiosity factor and “celebrities” may attract a small percentage of the audience, but these factors are difficult to maintain. For example, a person may have spent years gathering followers on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, but will the user be enjoying the same followers on a different platform. It’s like asking someone to start from scratch by collecting the 5,000 albums they’ve collected over the years.

Second, a social media user has a limited number of hours for two or three platforms. It is only if the user’s current choices do not meet certain needs that a switch to an alternative platform will be considered. In addition, many other factors come into play: user interface, auditability, transparency, privacy and moderation.

Some of the new start-ups, whatever their development, play another role… indirectly. They can be used by the central government as a backdrop while dealing with Facebook and Twitter. It is like saying: “Follow my rules, otherwise …”. The problem with “or else …” is that it can even make the country look like China where most of the big tech players are banned. Is the central government ready to share the image foreign investors have of China, or for that matter North Korea? Hopefully the new apps aren’t just currencies.

Applications to find users

Moj: Video sharing social network service, owned by ShareChat, based in Bangalore.

Chingari: Users can save and share short video clips

ShareChat: It is an Indian social media and social networking service, based in Bangalore

Koo: A micro-blog in Indian language, like Twitter

Kutumb: A social network for communities on the model of Reddit

Mitron: A platform for short videos

Leher: A live chat social network


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