Government blocks 8 YouTube channels for spreading disinformation, anti-India content
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has banned eight YouTube channels for spreading disinformation related to India's national security, foreign relations, and public order. The list includes one channel operating from Pakistan as well. Together, the blocked channels have over 85.73 lakh subscribers and 114 crore views. The ministry has said that the channels monetized "fake anti-India content."
- The Indian government's decision to block these YouTube channels is nothing new. In July, Union Minister Anurag Singh Thakur told the Lok Sabha that the government had blocked 78 news channels and 560 URLs on YouTube since last year.
- The imperative question is, is blocking a necessary action, or is the government controlling the dissemination of information?
According to the ministry, all channels blocked made false claims in various videos, including the demolition of religious structures by the government, a ban on the celebration of religious festivals, declaration of religious wars, etc. The channels also posted fake news on subjects like the Indian Armed Forces and Jammu and Kashmir. They were blocked under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
In its statement, the MIB said that the content on these channels with a religious angle was "found to have the potential to create communal disharmony and disturb public order in the country." The content was also found to be detrimental to the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, and public order.
The seven Indian YouTube channels blocked include Loktantra TV, U&V TV, Gouravshali Pawan Mithilanchal, SeeTop5TH, Sarkari Update, AM Razvi, and Sab Kuch Dekho. The only Pakistani channel that was blocked by the government is News Ki Duniya.
The government started noticing the blocked YouTube channels due to their usage of fake and sensational thumbnails, images of news anchors, and logos of TV channels to mislead the viewers. The ministry also said that all the blocked channels displayed advertisements on their videos with "false content detrimental to communal harmony, public order, and India's foreign relations."