Govt blocks 22 YouTube channels; says they spread disinformation on national security
Besides the 22 YouTube channels, 3 Twitter accounts, one Facebook account and one news website have been blocked
As many as 22 YouTube-based news channels, three Twitter accounts, one Facebook account and one news website have been blocked by the Union government. The orders to block these web platforms have come after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, found that they were being deployed to spread fake news, and coordinated disinformation over social media on topics sensitive from the perspective of national security, India’s foreign relations, and public order.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s orders ride on the emergency powers prescribed under the IT Rules, 2021. Significantly, this is the first time that action is being taken on Indian YouTube based news publishers since the notification of the IT Rules, 2021 in February last year. The 22 YouTube based news channels that have received closure orders include 18 Indian and four Pakistan-based platforms. These YouTube channels had a cumulative viewership of over 260 crore.
YouTube channels posted fake news: Govt
The Ministry has stated that the YouTube channels that were blocked had been posting fake news on various subjects such as the Indian Armed Forces, Jammu and Kashmir and the like. The content ordered to be blocked also included certain anti-India content posted from multiple social media accounts operated in a coordinated manner from Pakistan, it added.
As per the ministry, a significant amount of false content published by the Indian YouTube based channels related to the ongoing situation in Ukraine, and aimed at jeopardizing India’s foreign relations with other countries.
It was also found that the blocked Indian YouTube channels had been using templates and logos of certain TV news channels, including images of their news anchors to mislead the viewers to believe that the news was authentic. False thumbnails were used; and title and thumbnail of the videos were frequently altered to increase the popularity of content on social media. In certain cases, it was also observed that systematic anti-India fake news was originating from Pakistan, it has said.
78 channels, social media accounts blocked since Dec 2021
The latest blocking of the YouTube channels and other social media accounts takes the number of channels that have been ordered closure to 78 since December 2021. According to the ministry, the reason for blocking them were related to related to national security, sovereignty and integrity of India, and public order.
The Indian YouTube-based news channels that have been blocked are ARP News, AOP News, LDC News, SarkariBabu, SS ZONE Hindi, Smart News, News23Hindi, Online Khabar, DP News, PKB News, KisanTak, Borana News, Sarkari News Update, Bharat Mausam, RJ ZONE 6, Exam Report, Digi Gurukul, and Dinbhar ki Khabrein.
While the Pakistan-based YouTube channels are DuniyaMeryAagy, Ghulam Nabi Madni, Haqeeqat TV and Haqeeqat TV 2.0. The blocked website goes by the name of Dunya Mere Aagy. All the Twitter accounts and the lone Facebook account that have been blocked are Pakistan-based.