Govt blocks 22 YouTube channels

New Delhi, April 5 : The Indian government on Tuesday blocked 18 Indian and four Pakistani YouTube based news channels, three Twitter and one Facebook accounts and one news website for spreading disinformation related to India’s national security, foreign relations and public order. The blocked YouTube channels had a cumulative viewership of over 260 crore and were used to spread fake news and coordinated disinformation over social media on subjects sensitive from the perspective of national security and foreign relations, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said. “This is the first time action has been taken on Indian YouTube based news publishers since the notification of the IT Rules 2021 in February last year.” The offending YouTube channels were used to post fake news on various subjects such as the Indian armed forces and Jammu and Kashmir, it said. The content ordered to be blocked included anti-India content posted from multiple social media accounts operated in a coordinated manner from Pakistan, the Ministry said. According to the Ministry, it was observed that a significant amount of false content published by the these Indian YouTube based channels related to the ongoing situation in Ukraine and aimed at jeopardizing India’s foreign relations with other countries. The blocked Indian YouTube channels were using templates and logos of certain TV news channels, including images of their news anchors, to mislead the viewers to believe that the news was authentic. “False thumbnails were used and title and thumbnail of the videos were frequently altered to increase the virality of content on social media. In certain cases, it was also observed that systematic anti-India fake news was originating from Pakistan,” the Ministry said. With this action, since December 2021, the Ministry has issued directions for blocking of 78 YouTube based news channels and several other social media accounts on similar grounds. ASU MR

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