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Helo removes about 1.6 lakh accounts for violating guidelines in India

Shayamanga Barooah added that the platform currently has about 40 million users and supports 14 Indian languages.

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
Social media platform Helo - which focusses on Indian language users - said it has removed about 1.6 lakh accounts and 5 million posts from its platform over the last 10 months after they were found to be violating its guidelines.
The platform, which is operated by China's ByteDance that also runs TikTok, started its services in India in June last year.
"We started Helo last year in June with the aim of providing users of Indian languages a platform to connect and communicate in a safe environment. It is an India-focussed app and we have seen a strong adoption not only in the country but also among the Indian diaspora in the US, Malaysia, Nepal and other countries," Shayamanga Barooah, head of content operations at Helo told PTI.
He added that platform currently has about 40 million users and supports 14 Indian languages.
"User safety is a prime focus for us. In the last 10 months, we have taken down 1.6 lakh accounts and about five million posts that were found to be violating our community guidelines," he said.
Asked if the removed content was political in nature, Barooah said "political-centric fake content was 0.07 per cent of the total content that was removed, it was very miniscule".
He said users are sharing content across the spectrum like hyperlocal news and couplets, while celebrities and influencers are using the platform to connect to their audience in various Indian languages like Telegu, Kannada and Gujarati among others.
According to a report by Google, the number of Internet users in Indian languages is expected to reach 536 million over the next three years, contributing 35 per cent of $4.4 billion digital ad spend in the country. The share of local languages in ad spend is estimated to be about 5 per cent.
Estimates suggest that Hindi internet users (at 201 million) would outnumber those accessing the web in English at 199 million by 2021. India is expected to have 735 million internet users by the same time from 409 million in 2016.
Helo's parent company, ByteDance, recently stated that it is ramping up its content moderation team in India and is expected to have about 250 people in these roles by the end of the year. These personnel will be moderating content for Helo as well as TikTok and Vigo Video in India. It has also committed an investment of about $1 billion over the next three years in its India operations across these platforms.
"We are aiming for 300 per cent increase in our India business, so we should have about 100 million users when we exit 2019. Our investment in safety and content moderation team is in line with that," Barooah said.
He explained that Helo is also using machine learning and training its systems to filter out content that violates its guidelines.

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First Published: Apr 28 2019 | 1:00 PM IST

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