The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has ordered the blocking of 20 YouTube channels, and two websites, accusing them of “anti-India propaganda and fake news”. The ministry has ordered YouTube to block the 20 channels and the other, and issued another order for the blocking of “news websites” to “Department of Telecom to direct the internet service providers for blocking of the news channels/portals.” According to the ministry, these “channels and the websites belong to a coordinated disinformation network operating from Pakistan and spreading fake news about various sensitive subjects related to India.”
The identification was a result of “a closely coordinated effort between intelligence agencies and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,” it stated adding the channels and websites “were used to post divisive content in a coordinated manner on topics like Kashmir, Indian Army, minority communities in India, Ram Mandir, General Bipin Rawat,etc.” The modus operandi, according to the Ministry, was an “anti-India disinformation campaign involving the Naya Pakistan Group (NPG), operating from Pakistan, having a network of YouTube channels, and some other standalone YouTube channels not related to NPG.” The channels reportedly have a combined subscriber base of over 35 lakh, and their videos had over 55 crore views, it added that some of the YouTube channels of the NPG “were being operated by anchors of Pakistani news channels.”
These YouTube channels had also reportedly featured “content on issues such as the farmers’ protest, protests related to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, and tried to incite the minorities against the Government of India,” said the ministry, adding that “these YouTube channels had also posted content on issues such as the farmers’ protest, protests related to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, and tried to incite the minorities against the Government of India. It was also feared that these YouTube channels would be used to post content to undermine the democratic process of the upcoming elections in five states.”
According to the media statement, “The Ministry has acted to secure the information space in India, and utilized emergency powers under the Rule 16 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The Ministry observed that Most of the content pertains to subjects sensitive from the perspective of national security and are factually incorrect, and are being mainly posted from Pakistan as a coordinated disinformation network (as in the case of Naya Pakistan Group) against India and thus deemed it fit for action under the provisions to block content in case of emergency.” It also shared a massive annexure that included statistics and details of the YouTube channels ordered to be blocked by the Ministry of Information. It may be read here.