India is trying to build its own internet

The Indian government has ratcheted up its pressure on global tech companies. It recently imposed stringent restrictions on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and reportedly threatened their employees with jail time, less than a year after banning dozens of Chinese apps, including TikTok and WeChat.

Against that backdrop, homegrown alternatives to many of those services have cropped up to try to take advantage of a burgeoning techno-nationalism — and some are quickly gaining traction. The two most downloaded apps in India so far in 2021 are TikTok-esque short video platforms MX Taka Tak and Moj, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower.

An Indian tech company executive praised Twitter’s service and said the government backlash against it and other tech platforms is “unfortunate.” But he doesn’t deny that local apps have a better understanding of the market and can step in where big global tech firms fall short.

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