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Rules of engagement: The excellent Indian social media dream

By Srinath Srinivasan

Indian entrepreneurs have a sturdy case today to make social platforms for their fellow citizens. The developing fervour of information nationalism, the vacuum left by the banned Chinese social media channels and the ever developing want of the ordinary Indian to voice his/her opinion at national and international levels have resulted in the birth of a quantity of social media apps. While the Indian apps make a sturdy option to the American and Chinese ones, they also are facing a exclusive difficulty of understanding the Indian sentiments and a duty of working along with Indian policy makers.



“Indian entrepreneurs are better positioned to know the sentiments of the various groups of people in India. They can create platforms that can first understand the users better before moderating them,” says Anurag Ramdasan, head of investments, 3one4 Capital. The firm has invested in Koo, which promises to project the voice of the Indians globally. “If you carefully see, only the English content on Koo is mostly political. Users in local languages mostly talk about their day-to-day interests and lifestyle. Twitter, by far, does not have this kind of discourse,” says Ramdasan.



The query on the other hand is no matter if Indian platforms can have decreased noise, gaslighting and raucousness on their posts in contrast to Twitter and Facebook? It seems, Indian entrepreneurs are attempting out some approaches to do it. Pepul, which promises to be the most safe and user-friendly option to the Instagram and Facebook story format, is testing out user verification for all and has laid out its personal guidelines of moderation. “First, we want the user to be real, verified and be constantly in touch with the community members who also take the role of the moderators. Then, we introduce something called ‘Karma’, which keeps track of the user’s good and bad activities,” says Suresh Kumar G, founder and CEO, Pepul. “We will not allow any kind of propaganda that hurts others’ sentiments or is aimed at inciting violence.”

MYn, a content platform that aims to make proximity commerce more frequent, supplies MYn ID, a 7-digit alpha numeric ID which identifies a user on the platform. The platform requires a photograph of the user at the time of signing up, which in actual use does not seem on the user’s public profile. “MYn ID and the photograph allow us to verify a user and close in on their account if their content gets abusive or gets reported. The ID is their only way to login to the app. In addition, the system recalibrates itself and checks the content real-time for authenticity and abuse,” says AS Rajagopal, founder and CEO, Myn.

Bharatam, which promises to be the Facebook option from Noida, desires to prevent all the controversies that Facebook has been via throughout its development. “We built the app with the aim to have everything that American and Chinese apps came with. Our teams and systems who will moderate content and address grievances will be based in India and not outside. We will not share or sell user data to anyone for any purpose,” says Neeraj Bisht, founder and CEO, Bharatam.

While the platforms are optimistic about maintaining up the founding philosophy and principles alive, the actual test starts when they scale. While the government is calling the platforms to have a conversation on creating regulations, the concept of self-regulation by these platforms limits the efforts.

There has been no defined self regulatory regular that has been tested and established to lessen the chaos. The teams that maintain up neighborhood requirements on Facebook, Twitter, et al, sit remotely in the USA, enforcing their requirements in other regions of the world. There is no clear preventive strategy but to resolve identity based problems on these platforms. The systems today rely on continuous user feedback on what is superior and appeals to their requirements. The most significant challenge and chance for each the Indian government and the Indian social platforms are one and the same—to quit working in silos and get deeply involved in this cycle of feedback and moderation.



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