India blocks 16 YouTube channels for fake news, inciting hatred; 6 linked to Pak
India has blocked 78 YouTube channels since December 2021, most of them linked to Pakistan, for spreading misinformation.
NEW DELHI: India has blocked 16 more YouTube news channels including six based in Pakistan for spreading fake news on matters related to national security, India’s foreign relations, communal harmony in the country, and public order, a statement by the ministry of information and broadcasting said on Monday.
Two orders to block the 16 channels, which have a cumulative viewership, of 680 million, were issued on Friday, the statement said. This is the fourth instance of the government blocking YouTube channels for spreading misinformation under the IT rules that came into force in February 2021. Since December, 78 YouTube channels have been blocked, most of them linked to Pakistan, have been taken down.
The ministry said none of the digital news publishers had furnished information to the ministry under rule 18 of the IT Rules that mandates publishers of news and current affairs content, and online curated content in India to inform the ministry about its operation and file monthly compliance reports on grievances received by them.
“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,” the ministry said in its statement.
It added that multiple India-based YouTube channels were observed to publish unverified news and videos having the potential to create panic among various sections of the society. “Examples include 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,” the statement added.
The ministry said the Pakistan based channels were found to have been used in a “coordinated manner to post fake news about India on various subjects such as the Indian Army, Jammu and Kashmir, and India’s foreign relations in the light of 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,” the statement said.
The move comes days after the ministry cautioned private TV news channels against making false claims and using scandalous headlines. “Government of India remains committed to ensure a safe and secure information environment in India across print, television and online media,” the statement added.