The government has blocked 22 YouTube-based news channels, three Twitter accounts, one Facebook account and one news website for allegedly spreading disinformation about India’s national security and foreign relations. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry blocked these social media channels using its emergency power under the IT Rules, 2021.
Among the 22 YouTube news channels blocked, 18 were Indians and four were Pakistan-based. This is the first time action has been taken on Indian YouTube news channels since the notification of the IT Rules, 2021 was issued in February last year, the ministry said in a statement.
"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,” it said.
According to the ministry, these YouTube channels were posting fake news on Indian Armed Forces and Jammu and Kashmir. These channels were also publishing false content about the ongoing situation in Ukraine with the aim of “jeopardizing India’s foreign relations with other countries”, the ministry noted.
It said these YouTube channels were using the templates and logos of certain news channels to make their viewers believe that the news was authentic.
With the latest order, the government has blocked 78 YouTube channels in the country since December 2021. "The Government of India remains committed to 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.