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Business News/ Technology / News/  'Swadeshi network' Tooter goes viral, netizens label it 'Abibas' of Twitter

'Swadeshi network' Tooter goes viral, netizens label it 'Abibas' of Twitter

The term ‘tooter’ refers to a person who toots or plays a pipe or horn.

Tooter's login page (Tooter Screenshot)Premium
Tooter's login page (Tooter Screenshot)

MUMBAI : On Tuesday, Indian Twitter was abuzz after netizens discovered what appeared to be a self-proclaimed swadeshi clone of Twitter named Tooter.

One user called it the, the desi version of Parler.

For the uninitiated, Parler is an American micro-blogging site launched in 2018 which has a significant user base of Trump supporters, American conservatives, conspiracy theorists, anti-Semitists, and the aforementioned groups often overlapped.

However, while Parler’s interface looks quite different from Twitter, Tooter appears to be an exact clone of the American platform, replacing the bird logo for a conch shell.

The term ‘tooter’ refers to a person who toots or plays a pipe or horn.

It ironically also is a crude slang which --

1) refers to snorting cocaine from a straw and

2) is a derogatory term for a***.

The site’s About Us claims: “We believe that India should have a Swadeshi social network. Without one we are just a digital colony of the American Twitter India Company, no different than what we were under the British East India Company. Tooter is our Swadeshi Andolan 2.0. Join us in this Andolan. Join us!"

Ironically, it appears to be an exact copy of Twitter down to the colour scheme.

Once one logs into the website, one is automatically follows three profiles – a handle called News, RVaidya2000 (a prominent right-wing handle on Twitter though it’s unclear whether it’s the same profile) and ostensibly the CEO’s profile which is simply the handle Nanda.

A similar profile on Twitter offers money to promote Tooter: “CEO, Tooter Pvt Ltd. A Swadeshi Social Network. Users with over 5K followers, make some money promoting Tooter. Email for details or DM me."

Tooter auto-follows
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Tooter auto-follows

Nanda cites a video featuring Rajiv Malhotra and Mohandas Pai as his ‘inspiration’ for Tooter.

The About Us page claims that Tooter Pvt Ltd is based in Plot No 48, SriCity, Barugudem in Khammam, Telangana.

The news handle appears to be post stories only by Swarajya India – a prominent right-wing website – and appears to be copying its tweets in the exact same chronology.

Interestingly, a lot of prominent Indians including PM Narendra Modi, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Union Ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Smriti Irani, cricketers like Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and others, already have profiles on Tooter.

Tooter CEO
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Tooter CEO

However, it doesn’t look like they are tooting on Tooter, and the tweets are an exact copy of their Twitter profiles and activity.

In fact, when one checks the source code, it would appear that Tooter is scraping the data of prominent Indians from Twitter.

Tooter Source Code
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Tooter Source Code

Tooter also promises to strive by the ‘First Amendment’ which states: “We strive to ensure that the First Amendment remains the Website’s standard for content moderation. We will make best efforts to ensure that all content moderation decisions and enforcement of these terms of service does not punish users for exercising their God-given right to speak freely."

For the uninitiated, the First Amendment of the USA is held up as the bulwark for free speech across the globe and states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Understandably, Twitter had a field day after discovering this desi clone:

Tooter also claims to offer a TooterPro version which costs 1000 per year. It isn’t the first platform that has cropped up to counter foreign versions.

Post the TikTok ban in India, several desi avatars emerged including Chinari, Trell and Mitron but failed to engage users on the same basis.

Only time will tell if Tooter will manage to give Twitter a fight but given the lack of longevity for platforms like Mastodon, it’s unlikely that that Twitter users will leave the mad hole behind, no matter how much they complain about the micro-blogging website.

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Published: 24 Nov 2020, 03:39 PM IST
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