By Shriya Roy
The issue of data privacy has come to the fore again in recent times as social media giant Twitter saw a massive breach in which many accounts, including those of celebrities, got hacked. Closer home, privacy concerns led to the banning of Chinese social media apps like TikTok, adding to fears of user data being vulnerable.
This growing threat is now leading many to homegrown social media apps. As a result of which there’s been a boom in their user base. GolBol, India’s leading homegrown social media network, has gained over one million users. Launched in December 2019, the aim of the platform was to help people make relevant and meaningful connections in the virtual world based on similar interests, ranging from faith and kinship to occupation. GolBol, which allows users to share their experiences and thoughts, is available in Hindi—the platform aims to encourage the active participation of Indian users. It sees over three million likes being generated each month and contains more than two million images, all of which are user-generated. “We noted that despite cutting-edge technology, social media networks were not fulfilling their purpose of being inclusive and bringing people together. We were motivated by this to create a platform that allows meaningful engagement and connections between people,” says Shanu Vivek, CEO, GolBol.
Another homegrown social media platform that focuses on privacy and aims to rival top players like Facebook is Elyments. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, in fact, unveiled the Elyments app in a virtual launch on July 5, urging Indians to adopt the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign. It is available in 10 languages, including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and English and helps users connect and converse with friends, share updates, network with like-minded people and make voice and video calls as well. User data security has been an issue with many social media applications, but Elyments creator, Sumeru Software Solutions, claims that data will not be shared without users’ consent. Plus, all its servers are hosted within the country. The app has also taken the cue from social networking giant Facebook and included features such as Feeds, Discover option, as well as alerts on its interface.
Another such player is Flik. The social networking app, however, offers a separate feature for dating unlike other traditional social media platforms. Much like Instagram and Facebook, users can also add live stories to share with friends. They can send instant chat requests and send unlimited images, videos, photos, documents, etc. Many users call it a hybrid version of social networking apps WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Then there is Rgyan, a socio-spiritual networking platform, built specifically for Indians. Users often call it a “spiritual Instagram with a touch of Quora”. At a time when social media sites hardly have any bar over the kind of content published on them, Rgyan stands out as a platform where only meaningful content is shared.
The app, which is available in both English and Hindi, allows users to share their thoughts through pictures, videos, text and GIFs. Content shared on Rgyan is centred around spirituality, health and wellness, motivational quotes and other topics. It also offers curated content on divinity, horoscope, spiritual and social matters, among others. “There was a need for such a meaningful social platform where people could get knowledge, as well as share thoughts on various meaningful matters,” says Debjit Patra, founder and chairman, Rgyan.
Apart from these, home-grown social media apps like Chingari, ShareChat and Roposo have also taken over the market after the ban on Chinese apps in India. With more and more Indian apps joining the bandwagon, it’s clear that the issue of data privacy is gaining more focus.