Government blocks 35 ‘Pakistan-based’ YouTube channels for propagating fake news

The Government of India on Friday banned 35 YouTube channels and multiple social media accounts for spreading “fake news”. Similar action was initiated by the ministry in December of last year when 20 YouTube channels were blocked for airing ‘anti-India’ content.

Conveying the government’s decision, I&B Secretary Apurva Chandra said during a press conference that content posted by these YouTube channels and accounts had nearly 130 crore views.

“These accounts were based out of Pakistan. They were propagating fake news, and unleashing a fake news war against India,” the Secretary of the Information and Broadcasting ministry said.

He added that these channels and social media handles were being used to promote “anti-India” propaganda.

The official revealed that these mediums were also being used to mislead the public using “fake news”.

Information was received from intelligence agencies and action was taken immediately in this regard, Sahay said, adding that social media intermediaries should also take note of such content.

“The popularity of the channels is visible through the fact that they had a total of 1.2 crore subscribers and over 130 crore views. Of course, it [blocking] is a very difficult task but the ministry is trying its best to ensure that anti-India content can be curtailed,” Joint Secretary Vikram Sahay said.

“The 35 accounts blocked by the Ministry were all operating from Pakistan, and were identified to be part of four coordinated disinformation networks,” the I&B Ministry added in a written statement.