I&B ministry blocks 16 YouTube channels, including 6 from Pakistan, for spreading disinformation

The blocked YouTube channels and the Facebook account had a cumulative viewership of over 68 crore. Representative Image/IANS

New Delhi: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has blocked 16 YouTube channels, including six Pakistan and ten India based channels, for spreading disinformation related to the country's national security, foreign relations and public order. The ministry also blocked one Facebook account.

The blocked YouTube channels and the Facebook account had a cumulative viewership of over 68 crore and were spreading "false, unverified information to create panic, incite communal disharmony and disturb public order in India", the Information and Broadcasting Ministry statement said.

"None of the digital news publishers had furnished information to the ministry as required under Rule 18 of the IT Rules, 2021," it said.

The ministry noted that 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.

"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 ministry said.

It said that 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.

Multiple India based YouTube channels were observed to publish unverified news and videos having the potential to create panic among various sections of the society. Examples include 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 April 23, the ministry had also advised private TV news channels against making false claims and using scandalous headlines. "The Government of India remains committed to ensure a safe and secure information environment in India across print, television and online media," the ministry added.

(With inputs from IANS and PTI)

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