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Interview: Koo co-founder Mayank Bidwatka on content moderation, comparison with Parler, and focus on mobile experience

Koo, an Indian-made social media platform, is being considered a challenger to Twitter of late. Ever since Twitter defied the Indian government’s orders to block accounts and tweets related to the farmer’s protests, Koo’s currency has been on the rise. Multiple ministers in the Narendra Modi government — including IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal — and politicians from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have signed up on Koo, something the company described as a strategic counterweight to the American microblogging platform. Many government departments have followed suit as well. Currently, discourse on app, which won the government’s Atma Nirbhar Challenge in August 2020, largely tilts pro-government. Trending hashtags at the time of writing this piece include “#narendramodi”, “”#protecthindugirls”, “#atmanirbharbharat”, “#indiawithmodi” and “#khalistanplotout”. Hashtags such as “#congress” and “#rahulgandhi” were trending too, but most “koos” using them are critical of the opposition party. We spoke to Koo co-founder Mayank Bidwatka, asking him about how the company will tackle the tricky subject of content moderation. Bidwakta said Koo would "empower" users to report hate speech, which will then be used to train the machine learning content moderation algorithm. We also spoke about the comparisons between Koo and American social media platform Parler (associated with the pro-Trump alt right in the US), and about the company's business decision to focus on the mobile users versus the web. Following are excerpts of that conversation: Note: Quotes have been edited slightly for the sake of clarity and brevity. On mobile…

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