After PM Narendra Modi’s campaign for an Atmanirbhar India, many Indian spin-off versions of software willing to replace popular apps such as TikTok (Taka Tak), PUBG (Fau-G), have sprung up. The more recent one is Tooter, a wannabe Twitter competitor app for India. At least, that’s what it says on its Tooter.in sign up page. Tooter at its core is a fork of the open source Mastodon social media project. It looks and works very similar to Twitter and hopes to lure Indian users with the promise of building a “Swadeshi social network”.
Tooter, in its Terms of Service page stresses that the platform has been created for “free speech”. The app might be appealing to the Indian user but its terms and services don’t appear to be very Indian. As pointed by some Twitter users, it mentions, a person may not “impersonate any person, or misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person or organization, for a purpose not protected by the First Amendment.” This is the first amendment as envisaged by the US Constitution. Also, strangely enough, it says “For avoidance of doubt, speech which is merely offensive or the expression of an offensive or controversial idea or opinion, as a general rule, will be in poor taste but will not be illegal in India.” There’s no clear mention as to what “controversial” means and even if it is, the platform clearly says it won’t be illegal.
How it works and how to sign up
Sign up is pretty straight forward, users have to go to the page mentioned above and use only Google or Yahoo mail address to create a user ID. When users sign up, the account automatically follows R Vaidyanathan (rvaidya2000), Nanda (who is the CEO of Tooter Pvt Ltd) and a verified bot handle called “news”. This bot populates the user’s feed with content exclusively from swarajyamag.com.
The Indian 'Parler' is here. And it's called Tooter. And, Narendra Modi has a verified profile here. ? pic.twitter.com/WhlwZLXF0H
— Venkat Ananth (@venkatananth) November 24, 2020
It also appears that some prominent public figures, politicians, and actors have verified accounts there. Some of them include Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, and actor Abhishek Bachchan, and cricketer Virat Kohli, and Sadhguru. However, it seems that the app is simply sourcing its content from Twitter directly as none of the above-mentioned personalities have acknowledged their presence on the platform. Also, Sadhguru’s profile description on Tooter clearly mentions the word “Tweets” which is exactly the same as on Twitter.
Regardless, Tooter is a relatively new platform that has sprung up just in July this year. It has a web application as well as an Android app on the Google Play store, but is missing from the App Store for iOS devices as of now. It also has a Pro version which can be accessed by paying Rs 1,000. However, the site does not mention where to make payment. Users should contact customer service to avail the subscription.