The Centre on Monday blocked 16 YouTube channels, including six operating from Pakistan, and one Facebook account for allegedly spreading disinformation related to India’s national security, foreign relations and public order. The blocked YouTube channels had a cumulative viewership over 68 crore.
It was observed that these channels were used to spread fake news over social media on matters related to national security, India’s foreign relations, communal harmony in the country, and public order, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry said in a statement, adding that none of these digital news publishers had furnished information to the ministry as required under the IT Rules.
“The content published by some of the India based YouTube channels referred to a community as terrorists, and incited hatred among the members of various religious communities. Such content was found to have the potential to create communal disharmony, and disturb public order,” it said.
The ministry said multiple YouTube channels based in India were seen publishing unverified news and videos having the potential to create panic among various sections of the society. It pointed out the “false claims” related to the announcement of a pan-India lockdown due to Covid-19 thereby threatening the migrant workers, and fabricated claims alleging threats to certain religious communities. “Such content was observed to be detrimental to public order in the country,” the ministry said.
YouTube channels based in Pakistan were found to have been used in a coordinated manner to post fake news about India on various subjects such as the Army, Jammu and Kashmir, and India’s foreign relations in the light of situation in Ukraine. The content of these channels was observed to be completely false, and sensitive from the perspective of national security, sovereignty and integrity of India, and India’s friendly relations with foreign states, the ministry said.
Saini Education Research, Hindi Mein Dekho, Technical Yogendra, Aaj te news, SBB News, Defence News24x7, The study time, Latest Update, MRF TV LIVE and Tahaffuz-E-Deen India were the India-based YouTube channels that have been blocked.
Earlier this month, the government had 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. Among the 22 YouTube news channels blocked, 18 were Indians and four were Pakistan-based. That was the first time action had 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.