The Centre on Thursday blocked eight YouTube-based news channels, including one operating from Pakistan and one Facebook account for posting "fake, anti-India content" online.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in a statement today that the action was taken by imposing emergency powers under Information Technology Rules, 2021. The orders for the move were on August 16.
The blocked YouTube channels had cumulative views of over 114 crore and were subscribed by over 85 lakh users.
After analysing the content it was established that the purpose of these YouTube channels was to spread hatred amongst various religious communities in the country and included the agenda of spreading fake news, the ministry said.
Examples of some of the fake news spread via the means of these channels included news such as the "Government of India to have ordered demolition of religious structures; Government of India to have banned the celebration of religious festivals, Declaration of religious war in India, etc."
Such content was found to have the potential to create communal disharmony and disturb public order in the country, the ministry statement said.
The YouTube channels were also used to post fake news on various subjects such as the Indian Armed Forces and Jammu and Kashmir. The content was observed to be completely false and sensitive from the perspective of national security and India's friendly relations with foreign states, the ministry said.
The blocked Indian YouTube channels were observed to be using fake and sensational thumbnails, images of news anchors and logos of certain TV news channels to mislead the viewers to believe that the news was authentic.
All the YouTube channels blocked by the Ministry were displaying advertisements on their videos having false content detrimental to communal harmony, public order and India's foreign relations, the ministry said.
Pakistan-based "News Ki Duniya" with over 95,000 subscriptions has been blocked.
The Facebook page of Loktantra TV, which has been blocked, has over 3.62 lakh followers. The YouTube site of Loktantra TV with over 12.90 lakh subscribers had been previously blocked.
Of the blocked sites, 'Sab Kuch Dekho' had the most subscribers with 19.4 lakh, and nearly 33 crore views.
U&V TV with over 10.20 lakh subscribers also stood blocked. Other sites blocked include AM Razvi, Gouravshali Pawan Mithilanchal, SeeTop5TH, and Sarkari Update.
The content blocked by the Ministry was found to be detrimental to the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the State, India's friendly relations with foreign States, and public order in the country. Accordingly, the content was covered within the ambit of section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
With this action, the Ministry has since December 2021 issued directions for blocking of 102 YouTube-based news channels and several other social media accounts.
The Government of India remains committed to ensuring an authentic, trustworthy, and safe online news media environment, and thwarting any attempts at undermining India's sovereignty and integrity, national security, foreign relations, and public order.