8 YouTube news channels blocked by govt for “monetising fake anti-India comments”

Image used for representational purposes. | Photo: YouTube

The channels had a cumulative viewership of over 1.14 billion and were subscribed by over 8.5 million users.

Basil Islam | TwoCircles.net 

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NEW DELHI — Ministry of Information & Broadcasting on August 16 banned 8 YouTube-based news channels, one Facebook account, and two Facebook posts. “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 on the blocked YouTube channels,” read the press statement released by the I&B ministry.

The press statement said that the channels had a cumulative viewership of over 1.14 billion and were subscribed by over 8.5 million users. Of the eight YouTube channels, seven are from India, and one is based in Pakistan. This new action by the union ministry was covered within section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The team confers on the Central and State governments the power to issue directions “to intercept, monitor or decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource”.

The statement said that screenshots of the content from the blocked channels show that they were used to stir up disharmony and aid the right-wingers in polarising the communities. “Besides spreading fake news, they were also using fake and sensational thumbnails, images of news anchors and logos of certain TV news channels to mislead the viewers into believing that the news was authentic. Fake news was produced on various subjects such as the Indian Armed Forces, Muslim religious festivals, Kashmir etc,” it said. 

Earlier in April this year, 22 YouTube channels were blocked on similar charges. Four of those were from Pakistan; the rest run from India. India’s government has banned over 102 YouTube-based news channels and their accounts on other social media sites since December 2021.

The names and viewership of the blocked channels are as follows:

Loktantra TV – 23,72,27,331 views

U&V TV – 14,40,03,291 views

AM Razvi – 1,22,78,194 views

Gouravshali Pawan Mithilanchal – 15,99,32,594 views

SeeTop5TH: 24,83,64,997 views

Sarkari Update: 70,41,723 views

Sab Kuch Dekho: 32,86,03,227 views

News ki Dunya (Pakistan based): 61,69,439 views

Basil Islam is an independent journalist and researcher based in South India. He tweets at @baasiie