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Koo: India has another option to shut down services

Koo: India has another option to shut down services

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, Koo was hoping to become an alternative to X in India.

  • author, How old is Zoya?
  • Role, BBC News, Delhi

Millions of social media users in India have been left stranded after local microblogging platform Koo, which billed itself as an alternative to X, announced it would shut down its services.

The platform’s founders said that lack of funding coupled with the high costs of technology led to this decision.

Launched in 2020, Koo offers messaging in more than 10 Indian languages.

The idea gained traction in 2021 after it was endorsed by several ministers amid a dispute between the Indian government and X, then known as Twitter.

The spat began after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government asked the US-based platform to ban a list of accounts it alleged were spreading fake news. The list included journalists, news organizations and opposition politicians.

X initially complied, but then recalculated, citing “insufficient justification.”

The standoff continued as the government threatened legal action against the company’s employees in India.

Amid the controversy, a group of supporters, government ministers and officials from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) migrated to Koo overnight, many of them posting hashtags calling for the film “X” to be banned in India.

By the end of 2021, the app had reached 20 million downloads in the country.

However, the platform has faced difficulties in obtaining funding over the past few years.

“We explored partnerships with several major internet companies, conglomerates, and media organizations, but these conversations did not yield the outcome we wanted,” they wrote on LinkedIn.

“Most didn’t want to deal with user-generated content and the unruly nature of a social media company. A few changed their priorities almost before signing.”

In February, Indian news sites reported that Koo was in talks to be acquired by news site DailyHunt. However, the talks fell through.

The founders said they wanted to keep the app running — but the cost of technology services for that was high, so “they had to make this difficult decision.”