Swadeshi apps liven up social media

- December 4, 2020
| By : Nabeel Ahmed |

The banning of Chinese apps, call for ‘Make in India’ and Indian users’ desire to use ‘swadeshi’ seems to be fuelling the growth of new platforms that are yet to deliver on their promises

The banning of Chinese apps, call for ‘Make in India’ and Indian users’ desire to use ‘swadeshi’ seems to be fuelling the growth of new platforms that are yet to deliver on their promises

For Indians looking for an alternative to the world-famous microblogging site, Twitter, a new

Android app and website could be the answer. Named Tooter, the website launched by creator R Vaidyanathan (rvaidya2000), Nanda (the CEO of Tooter Pvt Ltd) claims to be a “swadeshi” alternative for the growing microbloggers in the country.

To ease the switch from Twitter to Tooter, users are greeted with a pretty familiar interface that somehow manages to be a mix of Twitter and Facebook. The colour scheme of the new app is also very similar to existing platforms it takes inspiration from. Even the logo of Tooter draws heavily from Twitter, though it does replace the Twitter bird with a “shank” and has the words ‘Made in India’ as its logo. The app even cautions users that without Indian apps “We are just a digital colony of the American Twitter India Company, no different than what we were under the British East India Company.”

When one creates an account on Tooter the app, launched in July with a current userbase of over 10,000, asks users to join the ‘Swadeshi Andolan 2.0’. For the interfaces, the app relies heavily on Twitter and users are asked to create a username which can be used to follow other users once an account has been created. To make things better, posts on the new site are called Toots and though it lacks an IOS app at the moment, it can be accessed by iPhone users through the website.

Interestingly when creating an account, new user accounts are automatically found to be following three existing accounts: one of the Tooter CEO, a news bot and the third that of RVAIDYA 200. Of these, the newsbot account, though, seems to link back extensively to Swarajyamag.com.

On the landing page for the website, Tooter proudly claims to be “A Swadeshi social network” and says “Welcome to Swadeshi Andolan 2.0.” The new portal also gives users the option to get their accounts verified, for which they need to upgrade their account to PRO.

Some of the notable user accounts that can be found on Tooter include the accounts of eminent personalities like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Amitabh Bachchan and Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli. However, most of the content on their handles seems to have been sourced from Twitter and interestingly their accounts can be found following the account of the CEO of Tooter.

The new microblogging platform is not the first that seems to be capitalising on the call for ‘Make in India’, as this can be seen as part of a list of platforms and apps using the “swadeshi” call to increase userbase.

Since the banning of China-based apps by the Indian government earlier this year, for allegedly engaging in activities perjudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order, that banned popular apps like PUBG and TikTok, alternatives like FAU-G have been announced.

And though the Indian versions, those already launched, have yet to make their mark, the list just keeps growing. Earlier apps with similar claims of being “swadeshi” like Kimbho and Bolo Messenger, marketed as alternatives to WhatsApp, were found to have serious security vulnerabilities. Mitron, another app that claimed to have been ‘Made in India’ as an alternative to TikTok was found to have been a repackaged version of TicTac which was made by a company in Pakistan.

And though the success of Hike messenger, one of the most popular Indian apps, is yet to be replicated, the overall interface and feel of Tooter does make one wonder as to how it is better than its inspiration, Twitter.

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