India bans 22 fake YouTube channels flaring malicious content

11 Apr 2022


The ministry of information and broadcasting on Monday announced a ban on 22 YouTube channels spreading wild rumours having malicious and anti-national content. I&B ministry said 18 of the blocked channels were based in India, while four were based in Pakistan.

Screenshots of the banned channels shared by the ministry showed banners like ‘India likely to be nuked ’, ‘India and Russia to fight the United States’, ‘India finally joined the war, killed 15,000 American soldiers’, ‘Ukraine war leads to Bharat Bandh’, ‘Declaring World War’.    
The banned Pakistani channels included DuniyaMeryAagy (4,28,000 subscribers, 11,29,96,047 total views), Ghulam NabiMadni (37,90,109 total views), Haqeeqat TV (40,90,000 subscribers, 1,46,84,10,797 total views), Haqeeqat TV 2.0 (3,03,000 subscribers, 37,542,059 total views).
All the Indian channels that were blocked Monday were in Hindi. One sensational graphic even claimed India will be “destroyed by NATO”. Most of the graphics were war images containing photos of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Joe Biden, and Pakistan PM Imran Khan.  
Although the ministry has blocked YouTube channels before citing security concerns, what makes this instance different is that this is the first time it has blocked Indian YouTube channels. 
The total number of YouTube channels blocked so far is 78 — the ministry banned 20 in December and another 35 in January, both times citing security concerns.  
Speaking to the media outside Parliament on Tuesday, information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur said: “This time we blocked Indian news channels. We have blocked 56 channels that were operating from Pakistan in the past and we won’t shy away from taking such decisions in the future as well.”
One graphic that carried Modi’s photo said ‘Indian Rafale planes enter Pakistani airspace, drop 750 bombs in 10 minutes’. Another one, also with a photo of Modi, read ‘India conducts air attacks in Russia; destroys several places’.     
The cumulative viewership of these channels came close to 260 crore, according to the ministry’s statement. ARP news (4,40,68,652 total views) led the list with the highest number of fake news items, followed by KisanTak (36,54,327 total views). 
“The blocked Indian YouTube channels were using templates and logos of certain TV news channels, including images of their news anchors, to mislead the viewers to believe that the news was authentic,” the statement read
False thumbnails were used, the ministry stated, and the title and thumbnails were changed frequently to help make the content go viral.
Fake news monitoring is done either through the nodal officers within the ministry or through intelligence agencies.

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