I&B Ministry orders blocking of 22 YouTube–based news channels

According to the Ministry, multiple YouTube channels were being used to post fake news. File

According to the Ministry, multiple YouTube channels were being used to post fake news. File | Photo Credit: AP

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has ordered the blocking of 22 YouTube–based news channels, four of which were being run from Pakistan and the rest from India, by exercising its powers under the IT Rules, 2021.

The blocked channels had a cumulative viewership of about 262 crore and were being used to spread fake news, and coordinated disinformation over social media on subjects sensitive from the perspective of national security, foreign relations and public order, I&B Minister Anurag Singh Thakur told reporters on Tuesday.

Mr. Thakur said some of them were spreading misinformation on the Ukraine-Russia conflict, COVID–19 and other issues that were directly impacting India. While all the previously blocked 56 YouTube channels were from Pakistan, the latest list comprises 18 from India. This is the first time action has been taken against Indian YouTube–based news publishers since the notification of the IT Rules, 2021, in February last year.

Whether such channels are operating from foreign soil or from India, we will take action...we won’t shy away from taking decisions in future as well in the interest of India,” he said.

Three Twitter accounts of the blocked YouTube channels, a news website and its Facebook account being operated from Pakistan have also been blocked.

According to the Ministry, multiple YouTube channels were being used to post fake news on subjects such as the armed forces and Jammu & Kashmir. “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 said.

It is alleged that a significant amount of false content was being published by the channels related to the situation in Ukraine. It was aimed at jeopardising foreign relations, said the Ministry. These channels were using templates and logos of certain TV news channels, including images of their news anchors to mislead the viewers into believing that the news was authentic.

False thumbnails

“False thumbnails were used; and the title and the thumbnail of the videos were frequently altered to increase the virality of content on social media. In certain cases, it was also observed that systematic anti–India fake news was originating from Pakistan,” it said in a statement.

With this action, since December 2021, the Ministry has issued directions for blocking of 78 YouTube–based news channels and several other social media accounts on grounds related to national security, sovereignty and integrity of India and public order.

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Printable version | Jun 29, 2022 3:21:04 am |