The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting on Tuesday, 16 August, issued orders to block eight YouTube channels, one Facebook account, and two Facebook posts, stating that the channels spread “disinformation related to India’s national security, foreign relations and public order.”
Seven Indian and one Pakistani YouTube channel were blocked after the ministry used the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021, a press release by the I&B Ministry stated.
The purpose of the content published by some of these YouTube channels was to spread hatred among religious communities in India, as per the government. False claims were made in various videos of the blocked YouTube channels, the press release said.
Channels Showed Fake News About Festivals, Army, J&K: Govt
The channels showed "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 press release added, “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,” it said.
The blocked YouTube channels had a cumulative viewership of over 114 crore and were subscribed to by over 85 lakh users.
The release also contained details of these channels, along with the total views and subscribers they received.
The ministry further claimed that the blocked Indian YouTube channels were found using "fake and sensational thumbnails, images of news anchors and logos of certain TV news channels" in an attempt to mislead viewers and portray the news as authentic.
Moreover, it added that the channels' videos displayed advertisements that had false content, which may be "detrimental to communal harmony, public order and India’s foreign relations."
Since December 2021, the Ministry has issued directions to block 102 YouTube news channels.