Koo

  • How #Twitterban, Koo emergence allow Nigerians to explore tech space

    Irked by the wanton destruction, killing and attacks on security operatives in the southeast and south-south regions of the country, the president, a former military Head of State and self-styled democrat had threatened to treat some aggressive secessionists “in the language they understand.”

    Buhari’s statement came amid mounting security threats across the country climaxed by the abduction of some students in both government colleges and university in Niger, Kaduna and Zamfara by bandits.

    Controversial as it was widely understood, the statement was trailed by a whirlpool of reactions, with a number of social media users on Twitter calling on Jack Dorsey, the CEO and founder of the platform to give the “Buhari a Donald Trump treatment.” 

    Trump, a former US president, was suspended by Twitter after his tweet led to the attack on the Capitol amid grand delusions to overturn the victory of his predecessor Joe Biden in the November 3, 2020 election.

    NBC sanction

    In a subsequent move, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) ordered all the broadcast media in the country to suspend the use of Twitter “with immediate effect.”

    This was contained in a statement issued by its former director general, Armstrong Idachaba, on Monday, July 7.

    Garba Shehu, a presidential aide, in a statement said “the removal of President Buhari’s tweet was disappointing.” He also claimed Twitter was not banned but temporarily suspended, citing that it is a place where “misinformation” trends, among other reasons.

    However, in a fierce defiance, Nigerians have continued to be using Twitter albeit with Virtual Private Network (VPN), a connection that extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks.

    Enters Koo app

    One of the reasons Twitter was banned — or “temporarily suspended” was because as the Minister of Communication and Culture, Lai Mohammed said, it wascapable of undermining the corporate existence of Nigeria.”

    In a bid to cut down the intimidating influence of Twitter, Koo, an Indian micro-blogging app, was endorsed by the Nigerian presidency, with President Buhari leading the cart of his followers to the app.

    Koo app itself is a product of revolt. It is borne out of Indian government’s desire to sumerge Twitter in the populous country after the platform was suspended in what appears to be a long deadlock emerging from clash of interest.

           Screenshot of president Buhari’s profile on Koo. Credit: Koo app
               Official account of the Nigerian government on Koo. Credit Koo app.

    The Nigerian government’s endorsement of Koo, without any iota of doubt, represents a significant push in the app’s journey to position itself as a genuine challenger to Twitter in the country.

    This is because hundreds of Nigerians, mostly Buhari’s supporters, have joined the Koo app in solidarity with the presidency’s position on the Twitter ban.

    On the other side of the trenches, social media influencers whose work were affected by the ban have refused to join the platform, describing it as an attempt to gag “free speech” and strengthen the government’s vocal desire to bring social media under control.

    Bashir Ahmad, media aide to the president on social media joins Koo. Credit: Koo app.

     Koo a blessing in disguise? 

    Although Koo may find it difficult to outmuscle Twitter on the Nigerian internet space, its presence has provided the country’s social media users with a viable alternative of communication and expression of free speech.

    Twitter, over the time, has been the biggest platform that provides a voice for Nigerians who often checkmate the excess of the government.

    With over 40 million active users, the platform not only provides jobs for Nigerians as social media managers and influencers, but also generates revenue into the purse of the government.

    According to netblocks, a data-driven web application that allows people to rapidly evaluate the economic cost of Internet outages, Nigeria has been losing money daily over Twitter ban.

    Between June 5 and 25 the government suspended Twitter operations, the country, according to netblock, has lost over $150m (approximately N54 billion). 

    Data showing Nigeria’s loss since Twitter was banned by the government. Credit: Netblocks.

    Economically, this means if Nigeria can have a concentrated number of active social media users on Koo, more revenue will be generated into the country’s purse..

    Of the technological benefits, Twitter ban and the presence of Koo has revitalised Nigeria’s possibility of developing and exploring home-grown social media platforms that are basically Nigerian and capable of challenging the monopoly and hegemony of US-owned social media tech giants.

    In India, Koo came in as a tool of revolt. It was initially fashioned in a user-friendly mode with an  interactive interface to “deal with Twitter excess.” Now, it is a strong competitor, technically performing the same role. By the time the Indian government removes the ban on Twitter, its influence may have whittled down.

    India is the second most populous country in the world after China; Nigeria is the most populous in Africa. So there is a striking similarity between the two nations in terms of numerical strength. If Nigeria can use the avenue of the Twitter ban to create a home-grown alternative, it is going to be a step in the right direction for the country in terms of technological advancement.

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Legit.ng to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

  • The FactChecker

    Koo: What you should know about Twitter’s rival app

    By Lami Sadiq

    Barely a week after Nigeria’s Government placed an indefinite suspension on the operation of microblogging site, Twitter, the federal government made its debut on an Indian-based social media platform, Koo, which was barely known to many in Nigeria. 

    With the announcement of the government’s arrival on the made-in-Indian app by its co-founder and CEO Aprameya Radhakrishna, the yellow bird app is gaining traction among some Nigerians as they seek another source of keeping abreast with information hitherto filled by Twitter. 

    Announcing the Nigerian government’s arrival, Radhakrishna with the Koo handle (@aprameya) posted an official handle of the Nigerian government with a smiling emoji sign. “The official handle of the government of Nigeria is now on Koo,” he posted.

    Screengrab of Koo co-founder, Aprameya Radhakrishna (@aprameya) announcing the Nigerian government’s arrival on the platform

    What is Koo App? 

    Koo is a micro-blogging platform which was developed by Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka in March 2020 but was floated in May of the same year. The app won the Aatmanirbhar App Challenge organized by the Indian government in August 2020. It has a similar interface with Twitter and its rise is hinged on the stormy path Twitter took with government authorities in India and most recently in Nigeria.

    Like Twitter, Koo can be used to profess views and opinions on various topics as well as allow users to follow other users, conduct polls, share photos, audio and video with a Direct Message (DM) to facilitate chat with each other. It also allows users to place their posts with hashtags and the @ sign also comes before a username, to mention or reply to other users. Koo uses a yellow and white interface and like the blue-bird app, a verified account is given a yellow tick to indicate its authenticity.

    A check on Google Play Store shows it has been downloaded over 5 million times. Apart from English, the application features some local languages spoken in India such as, Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu. However, the co-founder and CEO, Aprameya wrote on the microblogging app that: “Koo is available in Nieria. We’re thinking of enabling the local languages there too. What say?

    Continue reading here

    Fact Checks of the week

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    A recent headline reads, “JUST IN: Buhari shot dead by gunmen in Edo”. It was first shared on PM NEWS and reappeared on ther platforms carrying the same headline. As expected, the headline drew serious attention from the public who thought…

    On Wednesday, June 10, 2021, the internet went agog with photos and news reports of president,  Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) receiving the first made in Nigeria phone known as ITF mobile. But, how true is this?

    Tip Of The Week

    #FakeNewsAlert

    There’s precious little that we can do about the barrage of misinformation that we see daily, but there’s a lot we can do together if we learn to identify suspicious claims in the news and refrain from fuelling the fire by spreading them! Here are our top picks of likely-to-be-false news which [sadly] couldn’t be fact-checked.

    CLAIM: A viral WhatsApp message claims that the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has advised users of public transports to beware of drivers mentioning Lace and Ankara during a phone call. The viral message purports that kidnappers have adopted the words ‘Lace and Ankara’ and translated them to mean ‘Male and Female’ respectively, hence, when a driver mentions any of these words, passengers should ‘quietly alight immediately.’ It further advises readers to pass the information on to others. 

    SOURCE: WhatsApp Message

    Questions to ask yourself: Who is the source? Which credible news platform has published this? Did LASTMA actually initiate the message?

    What you should do: Verify before sharing. 

    Other Fact Checks

  • Koo: What you should know about Twitter’s rival app

    Barely a week after Nigeria’s Government placed an indefinite suspension on the operation of microblogging site, Twitter, the federal government made its debut on an Indian-based social media platform, Koo, which was barely known to many in Nigeria. 

    With the announcement of the government’s arrival on the made-in-Indian app by its co-founder and CEO Aprameya Radhakrishna, the yellow bird app is gaining traction among some Nigerians as they seek another source of keeping abreast with information hitherto filled by Twitter. 

    Announcing the Nigerian government’s arrival, Radhakrishna with the Koo handle (@aprameya) posted an official handle of the Nigerian government with a smiling emoji sign. “The official handle of the government of Nigeria is now on Koo,” he posted.

    Screen grab of Koo co-founder, Aprameya Radhakrishna (@aprameya) announcing the Nigerian government’s arrival on the platform

    What is Koo App? 

    Koo is a micro-blogging platform which was developed by Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka in March 2020 but was floated in May of the same year. The app won the Aatmanirbhar App Challenge organized by the Indian government in August 2020. It has a similar interface with Twitter and its rise is hinged on the stormy path Twitter took with government authorities in India and most recently in Nigeria.

    Like Twitter, Koo can be used to profess views and opinions on various topics as well as allow users to follow other users, conduct polls, share photos, audio and video with a Direct Message (DM) to facilitate chat with each other. It also allows users to place their posts with hashtags and the @ sign also comes before a username, to mention or reply to other users. Koo uses a yellow and white interface and like the blue-bird app, a verified account is given a yellow tick to indicate its authenticity.

    A check on Google Play Store shows it has been downloaded over 5 million times. Apart from English, the application features some local languages spoken in India such as, Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu. However, the co-founder and CEO, Aprameya wrote on the microblogging app that: “Koo is available in Nieria. We’re thinking of enabling the local languages there too. What say?”

    A screen grab showing the app has been downloaded over 5 million times on Google Play Store 

    How it rose to prominence

    In an interview with Financial Express online, the co-founders of the microblogging app said they initiated the app to give a voice to everybody in India and chose the yellow bird to symbolise a happy bird spreading good messages among the community in India. 

    The rise of Koo is however credited to not only its winning of the Indian government’s Atma Nirbhar App Innovation Challenge but a row between Twitter and the Government of India in which a show of supremacy led to government officials dumping twitter for the new app. Since then, Koo has seen a surge in usage. Its fortunes also increased following another standoff between Twitter and the Nigeria government with the later suspending access to the microblog in the country on June 5, 2021. Koo’s similarity with Twitter has made netizens in Nigeria crave for a platform to garner information on-the-go switch alliance. “The Nigerian government’s decision to join Koo after banning Twitter reinforces its position as an alternative platform to Twitter,” says Pranav Mukul, an Indian journalist with the Indian Express. With its newfound fame, Koo announced a $30 million fundraise from marquee investors including Tiger Global at a time Indian authorities were turning the heat on Twitter. The fund-raise saw Koo’s valuation jump nearly five-fold to $100 million.

    Who is on the Koo app?

    Since the Nigerian government joined the app with a verified handle @nigeriagov, other Nigerians including President Muhammadu Buhari with a verified handle (@muhammadubuhari) and his Personal Assistant on Digital and New Media, Bashir Ahmad have joined. A Koo handle claiming to be that of the First Lady Aisha Buhari (@A_Buhrari) has equally suffaced. Activist and former Senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani (@Sen.shehuSani) have been active on the platform as well as Kanywood celebrities such as Hadiza Gabon (@Hadiza_Aliyu) and Rahama Sadau (@Rahama).

    A verified Koo handle of President Muhammadu Buhari (@muhammadubuhari)

    Will the new app solve FG’s headache?

    The Nigerian Government had accused Twitter for churning out fake news and hate speech on its platform with the site not taking any action. In response to the platform deleting President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet, the Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed had accused Twitter of double standards and allowing it to be used to undermine the country’s corporate existence. With the recent migration of the Nigerian government to Koo, it is uncertain if the government can still checkmate fake news and hate speech in the new platform. However, when asked about fake news the co-founders said: “This is one of those topics that falls in the grey area. A lot of policies are yet to be put in place as far as social media is concerned. Because unlike publishers, this is not curated content. If this was a simple question, we won’t be discussing it. We would have answers for it. The global platform would have had answers for it. We are dealing with social media, which means we are dealing with a space where people have the freedom to express themselves and there will be unscrupulous elements which will plug in some sort of fake news on a platform waiting for it to explode.”

    They were optimistic that it can be tackled by service providers going to the source of the news and trying to figure out where it came from. Commenting on hate that has become the bane of the World Wide Web, they said that since the company is registered and bound by law, it will ensure a healthy conversation, and that is what the app stands for.

    The researcher produced this article per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Daily Trust to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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