In order to check the spread of fake news in the country, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting stated on Friday that it has issued directions for blocking 35 YouTube channels and 2 websites that were involved in spreading anti-India fake news in a coordinated manner over digital media.
The ministry has also ordered to block 2 Instagram accounts, 2 Twitter accounts and one Facebook account for being involved in spreading coordinated anti-India disinformation over the internet, it said in a statement.
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. The two websites blocked by the government are whiteproductions.com.pk and dnowmedia.com, it added.
"Vide five separate orders issued under rule 16 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the ministry has ordered to block these Pakistan based social media accounts and websites," read an official statement from the I&B Ministry.
Indian intelligence agencies were closely monitoring these social media accounts and websites, and flagged them for immediate action, explained the ministry.
The ministry added that the 35 accounts blocked by the ministry were all 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 YouTube channels and a set of two other channels were also found to be acting in synchronization with each other.
I&B ministry conveyed that all these networks appeared to be operated with a single goal of spreading fake news-oriented towards the Indian audience.
"The channels which were part of a network used common hashtags and editing styles, were being operated by common persons, and cross promoted each other's content. Some of the YouTube channels were being operated by anchors of Pakistani TV news channels," it added.
The ministry explained that the blocked accounts were spreading anti-India fake news about sensitive subjects related to India. These include topics such as the Indian Army, Jammu and Kashmir, and India's foreign relations with other countries.
The ministry had observed that rampant fake news was being spread through the YouTube channels regarding the demise of the former Chief of Defence Staff Late General Bipin Rawat.
"These YouTube channels had also started posting content to undermine the democratic process of the upcoming elections in five states," the I&B Ministry further added.
The channels propagated content to encourage separatism, divide India into the lines of religion, and create animosity among the various sections of the Indian society, the ministry informed.
"Such information was feared to have the potential to incite the audience into commission of crimes adversely affecting public order in the country," it conveyed.
Previously, the government had blocked 20 YouTube channels and 2 websites in December 2021.
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