Date: 6 April 2022
On Tuesday, i.e., 5 April 2022, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B) has ordered the blocking of 22 YouTube-based news channels, under the IT Rules, 2021. Four of these channels were being run from Pakistan and the rest from India.
According to I&B Minister Anurag Singh Thakur, these channels had a cumulative viewership of about 262 crore and were being used to spread fake news on sensitive issues relating to national security and foreign relations. These channels spread misinformation pertaining to the Ukraine-Russia conflict, COVID-19 and other such issues that were directly impacting India.
While all the previously blocked 56 YouTube channels were from Pakistan, the latest list comprises 18 from India. This is the first time action has been taken against Indian YouTube news publishers since the notification of the IT Rules, 2021.
As per I&B Ministry, multiple YouTube channels were being used to post fake news on subjects such as the armed forces and Jammu & Kashmir and the situation in Ukraine with an aim to jeopardise foreign relations. These channels were using templates and logos of certain TV news channels, including images of their news anchors to mislead the viewers into believing that the news was authentic.
Since December 2021, the Ministry has issued directions for blocking 78 YouTube-based news channels and several other social media accounts.