New Delhi: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting banned eight YouTube channels Thursday – seven Indian and one from Pakistan – for “spreading disinformation related to India’s national security, foreign relations and public order”.
The channels were blocked under the IT Rules, 2021.
The ministry put the combined viewership of the eight channels at 114 crore, and they had nearly 87 lakh subscribers.
The ministry said in a statement: “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…”
The statement added: “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… Such content was found to have the potential to create communal disharmony and disturb public order in the country.”
“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 completely false and sensitive from the perspective of national security and India’s friendly relations with foreign States,” the communique read.
The ministry said the “fake anti-India content” was being monetised by these channels.
On the “modus operandi”, the channels stand accused of using “fake and sensational thumbnails, images of news anchors and logos of certain TV news channels to mislead viewers to believe that the news was authentic”.
The channels banned from India were SeeTop5TH (33.5 lakh subscribers), Sab Kuch Dekho (19.4 lakh subscribers), Loktantra TV (12.9 lakh subscribers), U&V TV (10.2 lakh subscribers), Gauravshali Pawan Mithilanchal (7 lakh subscribers), AM Razvi (95,900 subscribers), and Sarkari Update (80,900 subscribers).
The one from Pakistan is News ki Dunya with 6,169,439 views and 97,000 subscribers.
The Facebook account of Loktantra TV has also been banned which had 362,495 followers.
Since December 2021, the Ministry has blocked 102 YouTube-based news channels and several other social media accounts.
The statement said the government “remains committed towards ensuring an authentic, trustworthy, and safe online news media environment, and thwart any attempts at undermining India’s sovereignty and integrity, national security, foreign relations, and public order”.