As of April 2022, it was reported by reliable sources that the ministry issued an order wherein 22 YouTube channels were blocked and three Twitter accounts, one news website, and one Facebook account were also on the list. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has given direction for blocking 22 YouTube news channels, of which four belong to Pakistan. This move comes from allegedly misleading viewers and spreading fake news. This is the first time such an action has been taken against YouTube-based Indian news publishers since the introduction of the IT Rules of 2021 in February last year. More about it is in the paragraphs that follow.
YouTube Channels Blocked
The ministry said in a statement that it had issued an order to block YouTube channel 22 in numbers, one News website, three Twitter accounts, and one Facebook account.
Following the above move, the ministry has since 2021 December, issued notices for blocking 78 YouTube news channels and many other social media accounts because they are related to the national sovereignty, integrity, and security of India, public order, etc., a cumulative viewership of more than 260 crores were found on the YouTube channels that have been blocked, as revealed in an official statement, also adding that these channels that have been blocked were spreading the news that was not real, coordinated disinformation over the social media platform related to subjects that are pretty sensitive from the view of India’s foreign relations with other countries, public order, and national security.
More on the matter
Without naming the Indian TV news channels, the ministry stated that multiple YouTube channels published posts containing fake news on different subjects like Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Armed Forces, and more. The content that the ministry had ordered to be blocked also contained anti-India content posted from several social media accounts operated from Pakistan in a coordinated manner.
It was also noticed that a bulk of false content was also being published by the YouTube channels from India related to the ongoing Ukraine war. The main aim was to jeopardize the relationship of India with its foreign counterparts. The ministry also said that logos and templates were being used by the Indian TV news channels and also included images of the news anchors to mislead viewers and also made it in such a way so that viewers think that it is authentic.
The thumbnails that were used were not real but false. Also false was the video content that was changed from time to time to enhance the virality of the content.
The blocking orders were in tandem with the emergency provisions of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules of 2021. The Indian Intelligence was closely watching these social media accounts and websites, and the ministry marked them as taking immediate action against them.