The blocked 7 Indian & 1 Pakistan-based YouTube news channels had a cumulative viewership of over 114 cr and were subscribed by 85.73L users
New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday ordered the blocking of eight YouTube channels, including one operating from Pakistan, for allegedly using "fake and sensational thumbnails" and spreading disinformation related to India's national security, foreign relations and public order. The blocked 7 Indian and 1 Pakistan-based YouTube news channels had a cumulative viewership of over 114 crores and were subscribed by 85.73 lakh users.
The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry, in a statement, said fake anti-India content was being monetized by the blocked channels on YouTube. In addition, one Facebook account and two Facebook posts were also blocked.
"The content blocked by the I&B Ministry was found to be detrimental to sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the state, India’s friendly relations with foreign states and public order in the country. Accordingly, the content was covered within the ambit of section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, "said the I&B ministry .
"With this action, since December 2021, the Ministry has issued directions for blocking of 102 YouTube-based news channels and several other social media accounts. The government of India remains committed towards ensuring an authentic, trustworthy and safe online news media environment and thwart any attempts at undermining India’s sovereignty and integrity, national security, foreign relations, and public order," the ministry said.
Officials said the purpose of the content published by some of these YouTube channels was to spread hatred among religious communities in India as false claims were made in various videos of the blocked YouTube channels.
"Examples include fake news such as the Government of India to have ordered demolition of religious structures; Government of India to have banned celebration of religious festivals, declaration of religious war in India etc. Such content was found to have the potential to create communal disharmony and disturb public order in the country," the ministry official said.
The YouTube channels were also used to post fake news on various subjects, such as the Indian armed forces, Jammu and Kashmir etc. "The content was observed to be completely false and sensitive from the perspective of national security and India’s friendly relations with foreign States," said officials.
Giving details of the modus operandi, the ministry said these blocked Indian YouTube channels were observed to be using fake and sensational thumbnails, images of news anchors and logos of certain TV news channels to mislead the viewers into believing that the news was authentic. All the YouTube channels blocked by the ministry were displaying advertisements on their videos with false content.