New Delhi: Indian microblogging platform Koo is planning to introduce ‘WhatsApp Group like experiences’ on the platform for users with common interests besides introducing live videos and other new product features this year, CEO Aprameya Radhakrishna told ET.

The social media firm is also scouting for people from diverse backgrounds such as former bureaucrats, journalists and other personalities to establish an advisory board to “handle” a few situations around hate speech or freedom of speech that might come up every year, he said.

“2021 was a very exciting year for us right from February when we got into the limelight and really got a boost and so much love from all parts of India,” From the top most Bollywood actors to sports stars and politicians, we have more than 5000 verified folks of eminence using the platform to communicate in local languages every single day,” he said. “We have hit 20 million downloads. Our goal is to get to 100 million downloads by December this year.”

He said the company is working on bringing in “new realms of expression” for conversations or debates through live chat rooms.

“There are different aspects of going live in a room. One of the things that we are working on is text first. It’s like a WhatsApp group like experience but in an open community,” he said. “Whatsapp groups are for known people who you can add through their phone numbers, but if you are interested in talking about a match for instance, there will be chat rooms that will enable discussions on it.”

“It will be a WhatsApp group kind of an experience. Then there will be Video lives. Those are rooms that we want to enable for some of the most important folks of India to create and have discussions with their followers,” Radhakrishna said.

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“All of this is work in progress. WhatApp group like chats could be created by regular Koo users or some of the verified folks. We are targeting to launch this in the first quarter of this year. We should be able to get live videos going by April.”

Radhakrishna said he is expecting a 3-4X jump in the number of Eminence verified people on the platform. According to the company,
Eminence is the platform’s yellow tick verification mechanism that recognises and celebrates a user’s eminence, stature, achievements, abilities and professional standing.

He said the company is looking at establishing an advisory board that can help it deal with certain scenarios that can be very grey in nature.

“For instance, if someone says something, and half of the population thinks it’s hate speech while the other half thinks it’s freedom of speech. Now what do you do? We are aiming to build an advisory board that is extremely diverse in terms of experience. It could have ex bureaucrats, journalists, or somebody from the arts background,” he added.

He said the company is trying to make sure that its algorithms are getting better at identifying new phrases as it keeps launching new languages.

“Today we have 10 languages that are live. We will get to 22 official languages by 2022. We have to make the same machine learning efforts in new languages and keep getting better. We also tied up with the Central Institute of Indian Languages in December to share with them and for them to share whatever they have in terms of abusive content in local languages. These are some things that will help the overall ecosystem grow in terms of curtailing abusive content online and will also make social media a safer place,” he added.

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