The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, on Thursday, August 18, announced that it had blocked 8 YouTube channels for spreading hate and fake information under IT rules, 2021. The list includes 7 YouTube Channels of Indian origin and 1 Pakistan-based channel. The Ministry has further informed that these channels enjoyed a combined viewership of more than 144 crores and boasted a cumulative 85 lakhs 73 thousand subscribers.
In its press release, the I&B (Information and Broadcasting) Ministry stated that utilizing the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021, they decided to block these eight YouTube-based news channels, one Facebook account, and two Facebook posts. Using the popular video sharing platform, these channels generated high revenues by monetizing fake content identified for its anti-India nature.
The YouTube channels blocked by the centre are:
· Loktantra TV, with a subscribers count of over 12.9 lakh
· U&V TV with a subscribers count of over 10.2 lakh
· AM Razvi, with a subscribers count of over 95,900
· Gauravshali Pawan Mithilanchal with a subscribers count of 7 lakh
· SeeTop5TH with a subscribers count of 33.5 lakh
· Sarkari Update with subscribers count of over 80,000
· Sab Kuch Dekho with a subscribers count of 19.4 lakh
· News Ki Duniya (Pakistan) with a subscribers count of 97,000
The banned Facebook page belonged to Loktantra TV. Since December 2021, the Bharatiya government (GoI) has banned over 102 YouTube-based ‘news’ channels and their accounts on other social media platforms. Through their detailed PIB press release, the Ministry has highlighted, “The purpose of the content published by some of these YouTube channels was to spread hatred among religious communities in India. False claims were made in various videos on the blocked YouTube channels. Examples include fake news, such as the Government of India to have ordered the demolition of religious structures, the Government of India to have banned the celebration of religious festivals, the 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.”
They 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 false and sensitive from the perspective of national security and India’s friendly relations with foreign States.”
The Ministry also holds that “The content blocked by the Ministry was found to be detrimental to sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the State, India’s friendly relations with foreign States, and public order in the country. Accordingly, the content was covered within the ambit of section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.”
The press release ended with, “The blocked Indian YouTube channels were observed to be using fake and sensational thumbnails, images of news anchors and logos of certain TV news channels to mislead the viewers to believe that the news was authentic.”
All the YouTube channels blocked by the Ministry were displaying advertisements on their videos having false content detrimental to communal harmony, public order, and the country’s foreign relations.
With this action, since December 2021, the Ministry has issued directions for blocking 102 YouTube-based news channels and several other social media accounts. The GoI remains committed to ensuring an authentic, trustworthy, and safe online news media environment, and thwarting any attempts at undermining Bharat’s sovereignty and integrity, national security, foreign relations, and public order.