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Govt bans 35 YouTube channels, 2 websites for spreading anti-India fake news

The govt intelligence agency found that these channels used common hashtags and editing styles, and they were being operated by the same set of people

Published:Fri, January 21, 2022 9:10pm

By Danny Dcruze

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The Indian govt has banned 35 YouTube channels and 2 websites in India. The govt claims that these accounts were involved in spreading anti-India fake news in a coordinated manner over digital media.

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The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has ordered the blocking of 35 YouTube-based news channels and 2 websites. The YouTube accounts blocked by the Ministry had a total subscriber base of over 1 crore 20 lakh, and their videos had over 130 crore views. Additionally, two Twitter accounts, two Instagram accounts, and one Facebook account have also been blocked by the Government for being involved in spreading coordinated anti-India disinformation over the internet, according to a statement from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.

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The Ministry claims to have ordered blocking these Pakistan-based social media accounts and websites. The govt claims that the Indian intelligence agencies were closely monitoring these social media accounts and websites, and flagged them to the Ministry.

According to the government, the main purpose of these banned accounts was to spread misinformation in a coordinated way. The ministry claimed that these accounts were part of Coordinated Disinformation Networks.

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Network of YouTube Channels

Govt announced that these 35 accounts were operating from Pakistan, and were identified to be part of four coordinated disinformation networks. These include the Apni Duniya Network operating 14 YouTube channels, and Talha Films Network operating 13 YouTube channels. A set of four channels and a set of two other channels were also found to be acting in synchronization with each other.

The govt intelligence agency found that these channels used common hashtags and editing styles, and they were being operated by the same people. They also cross-promoted each other's content. The govt even claims that some of the YouTube channels were being operated by anchors of Pakistani TV news channels.

Nature of Content being shared by these YouTube accounts

The topics that misinformation was being spread on included the Indian Army, Jammu and Kashmir, and India's foreign relations with other countries. The accounts were also found to be spreading fake news regarding the demise of the former Chief of Defence Staff Late General Bipin Rawat.

Furthermore, the govt claims that these YouTube channels had also started posting content to undermine the democratic process of the upcoming elections in five states.

The recent action taken by the Government follows the blocking of 20 YouTube channels and 2 websites in December 2021 when the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021 were first used.

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