The Indian government has got YouTube to block access to eight channels — seven Indian and one run from Pakistan — over “fake, anti-India content”, taking the number to 102 since December last year. A Facebook account has also been blocked in this latest action, using emergency powers under IT Rules 2021, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said in a release today.
The eight YouTube channels — with nearly 86 lakh subscribers and over 114 crore views — “spread hatred among religious communities in India… [with] false claims,” said the ministry.
“Examples include fake news such as the Government of India to have ordered demolition of religious structures… to have banned celebration of religious festivals, declaration of religious war in India,” the release added.
They used “fake and sensational thumbnails, images of news anchors and logos of certain TV news channels to mislead the viewers”. The armed forces and Jammu and Kashmir were among their subjects, said the ministry, sharing some images of the thumbnails or cover images of the videos.
Of the Indian channels blocked, ‘Sab Kuch Dekho’ has the most subscribers, 19.4 lakh, and nearly 33 crore views. The others include Loktantra TV — whose Facebook account has been banned too — besides U&V TV, AM Razvi, Gouravshali Pawan Mithilanchal, SeeTop5TH, and Sarkari Update.
The Pakistan-based channel is called ‘News ki Dunya’, which has about 1 lakh subscribers.
Country-wise breakup of subscribers and views wasn’t given.
In April, 22 YouTube channels were blocked on similar charges. Four of those were from Pakistan; the rest, run from India.
The release today declared that the government is “committed towards ensuring an authentic, trustworthy, and safe online news media environment”. The action against some social media channels is to “thwart any attempts at undermining India’s sovereignty and integrity, national security, foreign relations, and public order”.