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I&B Ministry Blocks 22 YouTube Channels for Spreading Fake News, Misinformation

The ministry used its emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021, to block the channels and social media accounts.

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The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) on Monday, 4 April, blocked 22 YouTube news channels, 3 Twitter accounts, 1 Facebook account, and a news website for spreading fake news and disinformation on "subjects sensitive from the perspective of national security, India's foreign relations, and public order," the Ministry said in a press release.

The ministry issued orders for blocking these YouTube channels and social media handles utilising its emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021.

"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," the statement from the I&B Ministry read.

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Action Taken Against Indian YouTube Channels for the First Time

While 4 of the 22 blocked YouTube channels – DuniyaMeryAagy, Ghulam NabiMadni, Haqeeqat TV, Haqeeqat TV 2.0 – were Pakistan-based, the remaining 18 were Indian YouTube channels, which included Exam Report, ARP News, News23 Hindi, SarkariBabu, Bharat Mausam, KisanTak, reported Moneycontrol.

Since the notification of the IT Rules in February last year, this is the first time action has been taken against Indian YouTube news publishers, the ministry said in its statement.

The blocked Indian YouTube channels, the ministry said, were using templates and logos of certain TV news channels, including images of their news anchors, to mislead the viewers to believe that the news was authentic.

"False thumbnails were used and title and thumbnail of the videos were frequently altered to increase the virality of content on social media. In certain cases, it was also observed that systematic anti-India fake news was originating from Pakistan."

Multiple YouTube channels were used to post fake news on various subjects, such as the Indian Armed Forces, Jammu and Kashmir, etc. The content ordered to be blocked also included certain anti-India content posted from multiple social media accounts operated in a coordinated manner from Pakistan, the ministry's statement added.

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'Won't Shy Away From Taking Such Action in Future': Anurag Thakur

A significant amount of false content published by the Indian YouTube channels, the Ministry said, were related to the ongoing situation in Ukraine and aimed at jeopardising India's foreign relations with other countries.

With this action, since December 2021, the ministry has issued directions for blocking of 78 YouTube channels and several other social media accounts on grounds related to national security, sovereignty, and integrity of India, public order, etc.

Stating that the blocked YouTube channels also spread fake news about the pandemic, Union Minister for I&B Anurag Thakur said that the Centre won't shy away from taking such action in future, reported ANI.

(With inputs from Moneycontrol, ANI.)

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Topics:  I&B Ministry   Fake News   misinformation 

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