The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Monday stated that it has blocked 16 Youtube channels, including 6 Pakistan-based channels, and one Facebook account for spreading disinformation related to India’s national security, foreign relations and public order.
The blocked social media accounts have a cumulative viewership of 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. None of the digital news publishers had furnished information to the Ministry as required under rule 18 of the IT Rules, 2021,” the I&B Ministry said in an official statement.
According to the statement, “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.”
The statement also added that multiple YouTube channels were observed to publish unverified news and videos having the potential to create panic among various sections of the society, for example, false claims related to announcement of a pan-India lockdown due to COVID-19 thereby threatening the migrant workers, and fabricated claims alleging threats to certain religious communities, etc. Such content was observed to be detrimental to public order in the country.
On the other hand, 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 Indian Army, Jammu and Kashmir, and India’s foreign relations in the light of situation in Ukraine, etc, the I&B Ministry informed. “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,” it stated.
Earlier this month too, the ministry had blocked 22 YouTube channels, along with three Twitter accounts and one Facebook account for spreading disinformation.
On 23rd April 2022, the Ministry had also advised private TV news channels against making false claims and using scandalous headlines. Government of India remains committed to ensure a safe and secure information environment in India across print, television and online media, it said.