The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has ordered the blocking of 22 YouTube-based news channels, four of which are from Pakistan, for allegedly spreading fake news to mislead viewers. This is the first time that action has been taken against Indian YouTube-based news publishers since the notification of the IT Rules, 2021, in February last year.
In an official statement, the ministry said it had ordered the blocking of 22 YouTube channels, three Twitter accounts, a Facebook account and a news website on Monday.
With this move, the Ministry has, since December 2021, ordered the blocking of 78 YouTube-based news channels and a number of other social media accounts on grounds related to national security, sovereignty and India’s integrity, public order, etc.
The blocked YouTube channels had more than 260 million viewers, the ministry said in an official statement, adding that they were spreading fake news and integrated misinformation on social media on sensitive issues from the perspective of national security, India’s foreign relations and the public. Order
“Through the recent blocking order, 18 Indian and four Pakistan-based YouTube channels have been blocked,” the ministry said in a statement.
According to the ministry, multiple YouTube channels were used to post “fake news on various issues like Indian Armed Forces, Jammu and Kashmir, etc.” “The blockade order included some anti-India material posted from multiple social media accounts in a coordinated manner from Pakistan.
“It has been observed that a significant amount of false content was published by Indian YouTube channels on the ongoing situation in Ukraine and aimed at threatening India’s foreign relations with other countries,” it said.
The ministry said the blocked Indian YouTube channels were using templates and logos of certain TV news channels to mislead viewers, including pictures of their news anchors, into believing the news to be true.
“False thumbnails were used, video titles and thumbnails were changed frequently to increase the virality of the content on social media. In some cases, it has been found that the anti-India fake news originated from Pakistan, “it said.
“The Government of India is committed to ensuring an environment of authentic, reliable, and secure online news media and is committed to thwarting any attempt to undermine India’s sovereignty and integrity, national security, foreign relations and public order,” the ministry said.