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How Doosra Tackles Spam by Reversing the Indian Phone Call System

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How Doosra Tackles Spam by Reversing the Indian Phone Call System

Doosra, a startup that wants to fight the problem of phone spam, offers a secondary, virtual mobile number without the need of a SIM card or an additional device. This number, which can be activated through the Doosra app, can be shared at malls, pharmacies, restaurants, delivery apps, networking events, and shops, without being worried about promotional text and call spam later. Doosra reverses the traditional phone calling system by blocking all calls by default and sending them to voicemail unless you whitelist them personally. Subscribers can then choose to call back any blocked incoming calls without revealing their Doosra number. 

doosra infograph 1 Doosra

Since its launch, Doosra says it has blocked over 1.5 million messages and 5,00,000 calls from over 45,000 telemarketers. The company looks to reach 3-5 million users in the next 18-24 months. It is also planning to launch a new ‘Passcodes’ feature that will allow callers to reach out to Doosra customers without getting blocked, through a secret passcode method.  

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Gadgets 360 spoke to Aditya Vuchi, Founder and CEO, Doosra to know a bit more about the company’s journey so far and its future plans.  

doosra aditya vuchi Aditya Vuchi

Aditya Vuchi, Founder and CEO, Doosra

1. What were you doing before you began Doosra? 

Previously, I founded MediaMint (a global marketing operations firm) with over 1200 employees across multiple countries and Zippr (an addressing technology company), which partners with municipalities to deploy new-age digital addresses for better administration. 

2. What motivated you to begin Doosra? How did you come up with the idea? 

Doosra was born from a bitter personal experience a few years ago. I was shopping at a sporting goods store but decided to walk away after the billing clerk mandated that I share my personal mobile number for “billing” purposes. With my past experience in digital marketing, I fully understood the travesty of sharing personal information with businesses and the resultant behavioural profiling that is done for advertising purposes. 

But this incident gave me the idea of creating a publicly-shareable mobile number that can be given at places where a person is uncomfortable sharing their personal number. 

We started working on it in the summer of 2019, partnering with telecom operators to bring this unique and innovative product to market. 

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3. Explain in brief what Doosra is about and how it helps users? 

Doosra is a secondary, virtual mobile number that can be shared anywhere; malls, supermarkets, delivery apps etc. without worry about phone number abuse from telemarketers and scamsters. By blocking all calls by default, Doosra gives you complete control of who can reach and who cannot. 

We are well-positioned for the following reasons: 

  • Simple second number: All-digital and instant activation means users can get a Doosra number quickly. 
  • Virtual: No SIM needed or additional device required to run a Doosra number 
  • Focus on privacy: Doosra provides unique call management features like trusted contacts, trusted services, and voicemail, which are not available with any telecom operator 

4. Can you dial someone using your Doosra number? How does that work? 

While Doosra does not have outgoing calls, it does allow users to call back someone that has called them. This ensures there is no ambiguity about the call and if it may be something that is important to us. This call-back can be done through a call-bridging system that ensures the personal number of the Doosra user is protected. This is very similar to the way in which communication between a customer and food delivery personnel happens, where the personal number is masked for customer protection. 

5. Are all calls coming in on your Doosra number blocked by default? 

Doosra blocks all calls by default. All text messages sent to this secondary number are stored within the app. However, users always have the option to add a “trusted number” so you can whitelist the contact and their calls will come through. The other way to allow calls is to turn off the call blocker time, location or until when you need to. With this setting, all calls on that secondary number will get forwarded to your primary number and will not be blocked by default. 

In a situation where you have to call someone, but you don’t want to use your primary number for it, Doosra offers a limit of 100 minutes (every month), wherein it routes calls through an intermediate cloud telephony system. Others can also call you back on this secondary number. 

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6. Is Doosra free to use? 

Doosra, at its core, is all about privacy. That means giving users complete ownership of their data. As a result, we do not run ads or engage in any kind of data monetisation. 

Doosra’s revenue is based on subscription plans currently available to our users.

The six-month plan is Rs. 749 and the 12-month plan is Rs. 999.

7. How many users have signed up for Doosra till now? 

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While we don’t discuss specific user numbers, Doosra has seen a wide range of use cases for the service.  

  • Avid shoppers that don’t like to give their personal number to stores,  
  • Solopreneurs who use Doosra as a publicly-listed numbers on platforms like JustDial and Google Places 
  • Celebrities/ public personalities who use their number for ultra-private communication
  • Business persons that seek to split their professional  and personal communication streams 

8. The year you began Doosra was the year of the pandemic? How was it like tackling all the challenges of being in the first year of business and adjusting around the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis? 

Doosra released its mobile app in September 2020 and this week marks the one-year anniversary of the product.  While we planned to launch around May, we had to postpone the product launch until September as consumer sentiment recovered and people resumed their shopping activities. From a marketing perspective, we had to tweak our approach to focus heavily on digital advertising to get the word out there. 

On the product front, we have been generous beneficiaries of the pandemic. As people shopped more online and paid using digital channels, the fear of identity theft was heightened and Doosra’s privacy-focused mobile number was very well received. 

9. Could you help give a sense of how far Doosra in its one year of existence? From when it began to where it is now 

Since our launch, we’ve blocked over 1.5 million messages and 5,00,000 calls from over 45,000 telemarketers since our launch. We also see significant interest from businesses that would like to use our telecom stack to better serve their customers. Just in the last two months, we’ve added marquee names to our list of Doosra users. Our goal is to reach 3-5 million users in the next 18-24 months 

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10. What does the recent IPO of Zomato mean for tech startups in India? 

The Zomato IPO has heralded a new era of public companies where the Amazon-model of aggressively investing in customer and business growth is finding favour. India is a land of opportunities; and this requires pioneers like Zomato to induce the behaviour change needed (in this case, to order from nearby restaurants) to make a lasting impact. This development bodes very well for startups and early-stage investors where an IPO becomes a real path to realise returns. This also ensures that Indian startups don’t just hand over companies built with hard work and over time to international funds to enjoy the returns and ownership. 

11. What are the other plans in the future?

One of the recurring use cases we have identified is usage of a Doosra number at marketplaces like FB Groups, OLX and others, where the deficit of trust is a key concern. To further protect our users and give them the convenience, we are launching “passcodes”, a way for callers to reach out to the Doosra customers (without getting blocked) if they have the secret passcode that may be shared on specific platforms. These passcodes can be turned on/off in the Doosra app, giving our users complete control over who can reach them. 

12. Do you have any management mantra/ advice that you’d like to share with future entrepreneurs? 

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Expectation – Reality = Frustration 

Entrepreneurship involves working with multiple internal and external stakeholders. Having an operating framework ensures your decision-making is consistent for everyone around you. In my case, setting expectations to be as close to reality minimises frustration.  

13. What is the employee strength? Is Doosra hiring currently? 

Doosra is a small, agile team of 25+ product, engineering, marketing and customer operations professionals working from various parts of the country. We believe that early-stage teams need to be nimble, decisive and fast in execution and that has been the key to our success. As a leader, I spend significant time listening to our customers and evolving the product for long-term growth and expansion. Doosra is looking to grow the team; product managers, full-stack developers, sales executives and support representatives. 

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WhatsApp Group Admins Can Soon Approve or Reject New Participants on Android: Report

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WhatsApp is reportedly working on a new feature that would give more control and power to group admins. The Meta-owned instant messaging app could soon add a new option called ‘Approve new participants’ that will allow group admins to determine who can join the group. It would make it easier for group admins to ensure privacy and reduce spam messages. The feature has been spotted in WhatsApp for Android beta v2.22.18.9, which is available via the Google Play Beta programme, however, it is not yet available to testers.

As per a report by WhatsApp features tracker WABetaInfo, the messaging service is said to be working on a new feature that will allow group admins to decide who can join the group. Once released, the WhatsApp group settings will have an “Approve new participants” option where group admins can approve or reject the incoming requests from people who all want to join a particular group.

The report also includes a screenshot showing the new option, giving WhatsApp users an idea of what the feature might look like when it starts rolling out. In the screenshot, the Approve new participants option is seen under the group settings menu at the bottom of edit group admins option in WhatsApp group info. WhatsApp is likely to add a new section listing all current requests of users who want to join the group.

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The messaging platform is said to be rolling out the update via the Google Play Beta programme, with the v2.22.18.9 beta for Android. The feature is still in development and is not visible to beta testers.

The development comes a few days after the Meta-owned social messaging platform announced a new privacy feature that lets participants exit silently from WhatsApp groups without letting other members know about their exit. This feature will allow users to exit a group privately without having to notify everyone, except the admins. Currently, WhatsApp shows an auto-generated notification when someone exits a group. The new functionality will be available to all users this month.


What should you make of Realme’s three new offerings? We discuss them on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Instagram Can Track User Data, Behaviour via Its In-App Browser; Meta Responds: Report

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Instagram app can track its users’ every interaction — including all form inputs like passwords, addresses, every single tap, text selections, and screenshots — with external websites that are accessed through the platform’s in-app browser, as per a report. The Instagram app reportedly injects JavaScript code into every website shown, including when clicking on ads, which allows the company to monitor all user interactions. As per Meta, the script which Instagram app injects helps the company “aggregate events” and respect users’ App Tracking Transparency (ATT) opt-out choice.

As per a blog post by Felix Krause, who owns fastlane — an open source platform aimed at simplifying Android and iOS deployment — Instagram app injects their JavaScript code into every website shown, including when clicking on ads, in the app. Injecting custom scripts into third-party websites allows the platform “to monitor all user interactions, like every button & link tapped, text selections, screenshots, as well as any form inputs, like passwords, addresses and credit card numbers” without users’ consent.

In layman’s words, when you tap on a website link, swipe up link, or a link to purchase anything through ads on Instagram, it opens a window in the in-app browser instead of opening it in the default browser (Google Chrome, Safari, among others) that you have set on your phone. As per the blog, Instagram app injects their JavaScript code into every website shown, allowing them to “monitor everything happening on external websites — without the consent from the user, nor the website provider” — when you are using the opened website in Instagram’s in-app browser.

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App Tracking Transparency feature in iOS 14.5 allows users to decide which apps have the permission to track their data. Meta reportedly said that this has cost the company $10 billion (roughly Rs. 80,000 crore) a year. The blog notes that in order to be safe from the tracking, users can copy and open the link in their preferred browsers. Apple’s web browser Safari blocks third-party cookies by default, Google Chrome will soon start phasing out third-party cookies, and Firefox’s recently-announced Total Cookie Protection will prevent any cross-page tracking.

Meanwhile, Meta responded to Krause saying that the script that gets injected “isn’t the Meta Pixel” — a snippet of JavaScript code that allows tracking visitor activity on a website. Meta says that it is the pcm.js script, which “helps aggregate events, i.e. online purchase, before those events are used for targeted advertising and measurement for the Facebook platform.” Meta also said that the injected script respects the user’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) opt-out choice “which is only relevant if the rendered website has the Meta Pixel installed.” ATT is a framework on iOS that requires all iOS apps to ask users for permission to share their data.

Krause says he has reverted to Meta asking more details on the same. He, however, points that all of this (injecting code and respecting user’s ATT choice) “wouldn’t be necessary if Instagram were to open the phone’s default browser, instead of building & using the custom in-app browser.”


What should you make of Realme’s three new offerings? We discuss them on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Twitter May Fail to Fight Election Misinformation, Voting Rights Experts Say

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Twitter on Thursday set out a plan to combat the spread of election misinformation that revives previous strategies, but civil and voting rights experts said it would fall short of what is needed to prepare for the upcoming US midterm elections.

The social media company said it will apply its civic integrity policy, introduced in 2018, to the November 8 midterms, when numerous US Senate and House of Representatives seats will be up for election. The policy relies on labelling or removing posts with misleading content, focused on messages intended to stop voting or claims intended to undermine public confidence in an election.

In a statement, Twitter said it has taken numerous steps in recent months to “elevate reliable resources” about primaries and voting processes. Applying a label to a tweet also means the content is not recommended or distributed to more users.

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The San Francisco-based company is currently in a legal battle with billionaire Elon Musk over his attempt to walk away from his $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3.5 lakh crore) deal to acquire Twitter.

Musk has called himself a “free speech absolutist,” and has said Twitter posts should only be removed if there is illegal content, a view supported by many in the tech industry.

But civil rights and online misinformation experts have long accused social media and tech platforms of not doing enough to prevent the spread of false content, including the idea that President Joe Biden did not win the 2020 election.

They warn that misinformation could be an even greater challenge this year, as candidates who question the 2020 election are running for office, and divisive rhetoric is spreading following an FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home earlier this week.

“We’re seeing the same patterns playing out,” said Evan Feeney, deputy senior campaign director at Color of Change, which advocates for the rights of Black Americans.

In the blog post, Twitter said a test of redesigned labels saw a decline in users’ retweeting, liking, and replying to misleading content.

Researchers say Twitter and other platforms have a spotty record in consistently labelling such content.

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In a paper published last month, Stanford University researchers examined a sample of posts on Twitter and Meta’s Facebook that altogether contained 78 misleading claims about the 2020 election. They found that Twitter and Facebook consistently applied labels to only about 70 percent of the claims.

In a statement, Twitter said it has taken numerous steps in recent months to “elevate reliable resources” about primaries and voting processes.

Twitter’s efforts to fight misinformation during the midterms will include information prompts to debunk falsehoods before they spread widely online.

More emphasis should be placed on removing false and misleading posts, said Yosef Getachew, media and democracy program director at nonpartisan group Common Cause.

“Pointing them to other sources isn’t enough,” he said.

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Experts also questioned Twitter’s practice of leaving up some tweets from world leaders in the name of public interest.

“Twitter has a responsibility and ability to stop misinformation at the source,” Feeney said, saying that world leaders and politicians should face a higher standard for what they tweet.

Twitter leads the industry in releasing data on how its efforts to intervene against misinformation are working, said Evelyn Douek, an assistant professor at Stanford Law School who studies online speech regulation.

Yet more than a year after soliciting public input on what the company should do when a world leader violates its rules, Twitter has not provided an update, she said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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What should you make of Realme’s three new offerings? We discuss them on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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