Indian social network Koo gains popularity in Brazil but faces moderation challenges

Elon Musk taking over Twitter sent some people scrambling for alternatives like Mastodon and Hive. In Brazil, however, many show a greater preference for India-based social network Koo. But just a week after its South American launch, Koo is already facing moderation and security challenges.

The Bengaluru-based startup claims to have already amassed over 1 million downloads in Brazil. Analytics company Sensor Tower corroborates the claim, saying the app had 973,000 installs from the App Store and Play Store between November 14 and 20. Sensor Tower charts for both the App Store and Play Store show that Koo was the top app in the country during the .

However, many users may join the platform to participate in a prank. Koo sounds like a word in Portuguese that means butt. So, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes jokes on both Twitter and Koo with even brands like gaming company Razer involved in it. Ku also acknowledged the joke, explaining that it simply meant “the sound of that cute yellow bird.”

Over the past few days, Koo has added native support for Portuguese in the app and works with built-in brands like Burger King.

A shaky start

Within hours of launch, Koo users in Brazil facing problems access to the site. The social network also had mistakes as users can’t see their followers.

Koo has also faced moderation and security issues since its launch in Brazil. Hackers took control of popular influencer Felipe Neto’s Koo account for a while. The attackers published that they warn users about the lack of security of the social network. The company explain on its Twitter account in Portuguese that it “weakened our security for the last 2 hours to resolve the OTP issue” and all user data is safe.

In a separate carvingNeto said the social network’s founder contacted him and resolved the account takeover issue within minutes. He is currently one of the most popular Brazilian accounts on the platform with more than 500,000 followers.

What’s more, local media reports indicated that many users have already created fake profiles impersonating politicians like former president Jair Bolsonaro. The report noted that users made profiles in the name of right-wing activist Carla Zambelli, who was banned from all social media platforms. Koo’s own Twitter handles are not verified, so it’s easy to come across a fake account with thousands of followers and mistake it for an official account.

The platform also seems to be struggling with moderation issues. A few tweets suggested that Koo was full of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). In some tweets, Ku said it was active blocking these accounts. Under the laws of the landCSAM is a crime and offenders can be punished.

We asked Koo a few questions related to the aforementioned issues and will update the story if we hear back.

The story of Koo

Powered by Tiger Global Koo, which launched in India in 2020, gained popularity amid the rift between the Indian government and Twitter at the time. Several organizations and leaders from central and state governments have started making public announcements on the platform. In November, the company said it had surpassed 50 million downloads, but did not specify the number of active users on the social network. According to Sensor Tower, data an industry executive shared with TechCrunch, Koo has 2.5 million monthly active users worldwide.

While the company considers itself free speech platformis accused of in favor of the Government of India and censoring speech. Although its founder claims that the platform has an apolitical stance, it is equated with many right-wing social networks such as Parlor.

Recent developments on Twitter have made people look to other platforms. But while these services get an initial boost from the Twitter chaos, they’ll need to come up with better localization and moderation policies to be relevant in the long run.

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