The Information & Broadcasting Ministry has blocked 22 YouTube channels for allegedly ‘spreading disinformation related to India’s national security and foreign relations.’
These include 18 Indian YouTube news channels that have been blocked for the first time under IT Rules, 2021, and four Pakistan-based YouTube news channels.
In an order issued on Monday, the ministry said these YouTube channels used logos of TV news channels and false thumbnails to mislead viewers.
In addition, three Twitter accounts, one Facebook account, and one news website were also blocked.
‘These channels were involved in spreading misinformation impacting India’s sovereignty, national security & relations with other countries. They were spreading fake news about the pandemic & Russia-Ukraine crisis. We won’t shy away from taking such action in future,’ Union I&B Minister Anurag Thakur noted in an official statement.
‘The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, utilizing the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021, has issued orders on 04.04.2022 for blocking of twenty-two (22) YouTube based news channels, three (3) Twitter accounts, one (1) Facebook account, and one (1) 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,’ added the statement.
The ministry said multiple YouTube channels were used to post fake news on many subjects, including sensitive content on Jammu and Kashmir and the Indian armed forces.
The content consisted of certain ‘anti-India’ material, according to the statement, posted from multiple social media accounts operated in a ‘coordinated manner from Pakistan.’
According to screen grabs shared, the channels posted fake headlines on India’s involvement in the Ukraine-Russia war, a nation-wide shutdown in India, and attacks on India by other countries.
‘It was observed that a significant amount of false content published by these Indian YouTube based channels related to the ongoing situation in Ukraine, and aimed at jeopardizing India’s foreign relations with other countries,’ the ministry stated.
The Government has banned 78 YouTube-based news channels and several other social media accounts on grounds related to national security thus far, along with several Chinese apps.
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