The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has blocked 16 YouTube news channels and one Facebook account by invoking emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021, according to a press release. It also said none of these entities had furnished information about their operations to the MIB as required under Rule 18 of the IT Rules.
The press release revealed that the total viewership of these 16 accounts amounted to 68 crores and six of them were based out of Pakistan. The remaining 10 accounts were from India, it added.
It was found that these channels were spreading fake news on matters related to national security, India’s foreign relations, communal harmony, and public order, the press release continued. This is the second time that the ministry has blocked social media accounts in India and the fifth instance that MIB has blocked YouTube channels invoking powers under the IT Rules.
With the latest action, the government is coming close to blocking nearly 100 accounts which raises questions about due process as the government is picky in revealing the reasons for issuing these takedown orders.
Which channels were blocked?
- Saini Education Research: 5,870,029 Views; 59,700 Subscribers
- Hindi Mein Dekh: 26,047,357 Views; 3.53,000 Subscribers
- Technical Yogendra: 8,019,691 Views; 2,90,000 Subscribers
- Aaj te news: 3.249,179 Views; Subscribers: NA
- SBB News: 161.614,244 Views; Subscribers: NA
- Defence News24x7: 13,356,737 Views; Subscribers: NA
- The study time: 57,634,260 Views; 3,65,000 Subscribers
- Latest Update: 34,372,518 Views; Subscribers: NA
- MRF TV LIVE: 1.960.852 Views; 26.700 Subscribers
- Tahaffuz-E-Deen India: 109.970.287 Views; 7,30,000 Subscribers
- AjTak Pakistan: 6,04,342 Views; Subscribers: NA
- Discover Point: 10,319,900 Views; 70.600 Subscribers
- Reality Checks: 2.220.519 Views; Subscribers: NA
- Kaiser Khan: 49.628.946 Views; 4,70,000 Subscribers
- The Voice of Asia: 32,438,352 views; Subscribers: NA
- Bol Media Bol: 167.628.947 Views; 1,1.60.000 Subscribers
- Tahaffuz E Deen Media Services INDIA: 23,039 followers
What was the nature of content on these channels?
“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.” — MIB press release
Unverified information about COVID-19: MIB found that multiple India-based YouTube channels were publishing unverified news and videos which it said could create panic among various sections of the society.
- For example, 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,” MIB said.
Fake news about Indian Army & Kashmir: MIB informed that Pakistan-based YouTube channels were posting fake news about India on various subjects such as the Indian Army, Jammu and Kashmir, and India’s foreign relations in the light of the situation in Ukraine, etc.
- “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.” read the press release.
What happened in the past four instances?
- December 2021: MIB blocked 20 YouTube channels and two news websites saying that these channels and websites formed a “coordinated disinformation network operating from Pakistan” which was “spreading fake news about various sensitive subjects related to India.”
- January 2022: MIB blocked 35 YouTube news channels, two news websites, Twitter accounts, Instagram accounts and one Facebook account, all of which were allegedly part of a “coordinated disinformation campaign from Pakistan.”
- February 2022: MIB blocked apps, websites, and social media accounts including the YouTube channel of foreign-based Punjab Politics TV having close links with Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), an organization that has been declared unlawful under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967
- April 2022: MIB blocked 22 YouTube-based news channels, three Twitter accounts, one Facebook account, and one news website, the ministry said in a press release issued on April 5. They were found to be spreading fake news and coordinated disinformation on subjects sensitive from the perspective of national security, India’s foreign relations, and public order.
- Ministry of Information and Broadcasting blocks 22 YouTube channels for spreading fake news and disinformation
- MIB invokes emergency provisions under IT Rules to block ‘foreign-based’ content, apps
- Government blocking of URLs falls by 50 percent in 2021 with 6,096 instances, MeitY reveals
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