Pak-based YouTube news channels among 16 accounts blocked by India over fake news

Youtube blocked

16 YouTube channels, including six operating from Pakistan, and a Facebook account were blocked by the Centre today for disinformation on subjects concerning national security and public order, in the latest such federal crackdown. This comes within three weeks of the government blocking 18 YouTube channels over national security.

The government, which invoked “emergency powers” under India’s IT laws, said the channels had not “furnished information to the ministry as required under rule 18 of the IT Rules, 2021”.

The blocked social media accounts, including six Pakistan-based and 10 India-based YouTube news channels with a cumulative viewership of over 68 crores, were spreading “false, unverified information to create panic, incite communal disharmony and disturb public order in India”, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry said in the statement.

“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,” it said.

“Some of the India-based 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 read.

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The accounts were also observed to be publishing “unverified news and videos having the potential to create panic among various sections of society”.

“Examples include 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, etc.,” it added.

According to the ministry, YouTube channels based in Pakistan posted fake news about the Indian Army, Jammu and Kashmir, and India’s foreign relations in light of the situation in Ukraine, among others. The content was “completely false, and sensitive from the perspective of national security, sovereignty and integrity of India, and India’s friendly relations with foreign states”.

On Saturday, the ministry advised private news channels against making false claims and using scandalous headlines while reporting on the Delhi violence and the war in Ukraine. India has been seeking tougher action from tech giants, including Google and Facebook, over fake news on their platforms.

(With input from agencies)

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