The Centre Thursday blocked eight YouTube channels, seven Indian and one from Pakistan, one Facebook account, and two Facebook posts for promoting fake news against the country.
The blocked channels had a cumulative viewership of over 114 crore, were subscribed by over 85 lakh users, a statement by the Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting read.
The YouTube channels that were blocked include Loktantra Tv (12.90 lakh subscribers), U&V TV (10.20 lakh subscribers), AM Razvi (95, 900 subscribers), Gouravshali Pawan Mithilanchal (7 lakh subscribers), Sarkari Update (80,900 subscribers) and Sab Kuch Dekho (19.40 lakh subscribers) — all based out of India, while the Pakistan-based channel was News ki Dunya with 97,000 subscribers.
According to the Ministry, the purpose of the content published by some of these YouTube channels was to spread hatred among religious communities in India. “False claims were made in various videos of the blocked YouTube channels. Examples include spreading fake news such as the government ordering demolition of religious structures; banning celebration of religious festivals, and declaration of religious war in India,” the statement said.
Subscriber Only Stories
It added: “Such content was found to have the potential to create communal disharmony and disturb public order in the country, said the Ministry, who utilised the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021, and issued orders for blocking the content on August 16. The YouTube channels also used to post fake news on various subjects such as the Indian Armed Forces, Jammu & Kashmir, the statement said, adding that the content was observed to be completely false and sensitive from the perspective of national security and India’s friendly relations with foreign states.”
Accordingly, the content was covered within the ambit of section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The 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 to believe that the news was authentic, the Ministry said.
All the YouTube channels blocked by the Ministry were displaying advertisements on their videos having false content detrimental to communal harmony, public order and India’s foreign relations.
Since December 2021, the Ministry has issued directions for blocking of 102 YouTube-based news channels and several other social media accounts.