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India Blocks 22 YouTube-Based News Channels

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Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has ordered the removal of 22 YouTube-based news channels, four of which are from Pakistan, for allegedly propagating false information to deceive viewers. It is the first time since the introduction of the IT Rules, 2021 in February last year that action has been taken against Indian YouTube-based news providers.

The ministry issued an order on Monday to restrict 22 YouTube channels, three Twitter accounts, one Facebook account, and one news website, according to an official statement.

With this decision, the ministry has issued directives to block 78 YouTube-based news stations and numerous other social media accounts on national security, sovereignty and integrity of India, public order, and other grounds since December 2021.

According to the ministry, the restricted YouTube channels had a combined audience of over 260 crore people, and they were propagating fake news and organized disinformation on social media about topics that were sensitive in terms of national security, India’s foreign relations, and public order.

Without naming them, the ministry said, “18 Indian and four Pakistani YouTube news channels have been blocked as a result of the latest banning order.” 

Multiple YouTube channels were used to post “false news on various issues such as the Indian Armed Forces, Jammu and Kashmir, and so on,” according to the ministry. Certain anti-India content posted from various social media accounts run in a coordinated manner from Pakistan was also ordered to be blocked.

“A considerable amount of fraudulent content connected to the ongoing situation in Ukraine was released by Indian YouTube channels, aiming at jeopardizing India’s foreign relations with other countries,” it stated. According to the ministry, the prohibited Indian YouTube channels were using templates and logos from specific TV news programs, as well as photographs of their news anchors, to deceive viewers into believing the content was genuine.

“False thumbnails were used, and the titles and thumbnails of the videos were constantly changed to boost virality on social media.” It was also discovered in some cases that systematic anti-India fake news was coming from Pakistan,” the report added.

The ministry stated, “The Government of India remains dedicated to guaranteeing a genuine, trustworthy, and safe online news media environment, as well as blocking any attempts to undermine India’s sovereignty and integrity, national security, international relations, and public order.”

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