Homegrown Twitter rival Koo has an expanding library of 6,339 sensitive words and phrases across English and the nine Indian languages it operates in to identify content on its platform which is clearly abusive or problematic, but it is the grey areas which are trickier to handle, according to co-founder and CEO Aprameya Radhakrishna.
In trying to strike a balance between regulating problematic content and enabling free speech, social media companies, in India and globally, have been struggling to rein in rampant hate speech, misinformation and abuse spewed on its platforms by users.
“The law of the land helps us identify black and white scenarios like pornography, religious hateful content, hate speech against a person, content about illegal drugs, etc. These we are able to identify easily because we have a library of words and phrases in English and other local languages which our machines have started learning,” he told Business Today.
The Tiger Global-backed platform also tied up with Mysuru-located Central institute of Indian languages in December 2021 to expand this dictionary, especially in Indian languages.
But to decide on grey scenarios where half the population may find something hateful, while the rest may think of it as freedom of speech, the platform wants to build an advisory council of 9-11 eminent people from different aspects of Indian life to work with them on a case-to-case basis. We have reached out to former bureaucrats, the judiciary, NGOs, and business people, to join the board, he added.
“So, unless a user complains on the platform or there is an explicit notice form the relevant government authority, we don’t touch a piece of content. So, we will always depend on the law of the land and the community to handle grey areas.” We will be able to handle 99.5% of it, 0.5% will be new scenarios we will learn from, he added.
Founded in March 2020 by Vokal co-founders Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka, Koo briefly became an alternative to Twitter in India during the discord between the Indian government and Twitter over the ‘Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rule’ last year.
The platform made its algorithm public in March 2022 for the stated purpose of ensuring transparency and neutrality, while keeping user interests at the core and allowing them to know why they are seeing what they see on the platform.
The Koo app has been downloaded 30 million times and the platform generates a monthly average of 7 million Koos or equivalent of tweets. The app has raised a total of $ 44.5 million over five rounds from 17 investors, including Accel Partners, Blume Ventures and BharatPe co-founder Ashneer Grover. Users can communicate in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Assamese, Bengali and English.
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