The government on Thursday (August 18) ordered blocking eight YouTube channels, including one operating from Pakistan, for allegedly spreading disinformation, “fake anti-India content”, related to India’s national security, foreign relations and public order.
The number of channels blocked since December last year is 102. A Facebook account has also been blocked in this latest action, using emergency powers under IT Rules 2021, the ministry of information and broadcasting said in a release today.
The blocked YouTube channels had over 114 crore views; and 85.73 lakh subscribers and the content was being monetised, an official statement said. The channels that were blocked include seven Indian news channels.
Also read: 747 websites, 94 YouTube channels ‘working against India’ blocked: Centre
The blocked YouTube channels made false claims such as religious structures were being demolished by the government of India, news of ban on celebration of religious festivals, declaration of religious war in India, an official statement said.
“Such content was found to have the potential to create communal disharmony and disturb public order in the country,” it said. The government order said the YouTube channels were also used to post fake news on various subjects such as the Indian Armed Forces and Jammu and Kashmir. They used “fake and sensational thumbnails, images of news anchors and logos of certain TV news channels to mislead the viewers”, said the statement sharing some of these images.
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“The content was observed to be completely false and sensitive from the perspective of national security and India’s friendly relations with foreign states,” the statement said.
The Indian channels that were blocked include ‘Sab Kuch Dekho’, which had 19.4 lakh subscribers and nearly 33 crore views, Loktantra TV — whose Facebook account has been banned too — besides U&V TV, AM Razvi, Gouravshali Pawan Mithilanchal, SeeTop5TH, and Sarkari Update.
Last month in July, Union minister of information and broadcasting Anurag Thakur said that in 2021-22 the ministry took strong action against YouTube channels working against the interest of the country. Responding to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Thakur said the ministry has acted against 94 YouTube channels, 19 social media accounts and 747 URLs and got them blocked.
In April, the ministry of information and broadcasting had for the first time utilised the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021, and issued orders for blocking 22 YouTube-based news channels, three Twitter accounts, one Facebook account, and one news website.
“The blocked YouTube channels had a cumulative viewership of over 260 crore, and were used to spread fake news, and coordinated disinformation over social media on subjects sensitive from the perspective of national security, India’s foreign relations, and public order,” the ministry said.