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India bans 22 YouTube channels for ‘peddling lies’ about security, foreign policies

The I&B Ministry said they used templates and logos of TV new channels to look authentic, some social media accounts were coordinated from Pakistan.

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New Delhi: India has blocked 22 YouTube news channels — 18 Indian and four Pakistani — for spreading disinformation about the country’s national security and foreign policies, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry said Tuesday.

The YouTube channels had a viewership of over 260 crore, the ministry said.

Three Twitter accounts, one Facebook account and a news website have also been blocked.

The ministry’s action – under its emergency powers — is a first since new IT rules were introduced in February last year.

The ministry said: “Multiple YouTube channels were used to post fake news on various subjects such as the Indian Armed Forces, Jammu and Kashmir etc. The content ordered to be blocked also included certain anti-India content posted from multiple social media accounts operated in a coordinated manner from Pakistan.”

“It was observed that a significant amount of false content published by these Indian YouTube based channels related to the ongoing situation in Ukraine, and aimed at jeopardising India’s foreign relations with other countries,” the communique said.

The modus operandi of these channels was “to use 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,” the statement said, adding, “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.”

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