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NEW DELHI: The ministry of information and broadcasting on Thursday issued orders to block eight YouTube news channels, one Facebook account, and two Facebook posts under the IT (Information Technology) Rules, 2021. The blocked YouTube channels had a cumulative viewership of over 114 crore and were subscribed by over 85 lakh users, the ministry said in a statement.

“The purpose of the content published by some of these YouTube channels was to spread hatred among religious communities in India. False claims were made in various videos of the blocked YouTube channels. Examples include fake news such as the government of India to have ordered demolition of religious structures; banned celebration of religious festivals, declaration of religious war in India, and so on. Such content was found to have the potential to create communal disharmony and disturb public order in the country," the statement said.

The YouTube channels were also being used to post fake news on various subjects such as the Indian armed forces, Jammu and Kashmir, among others. The content was observed to be completely false and sensitive from the perspective of national security, India’s friendly relations with foreign states and public order in the country. It was, therefore, was covered within the ambit of section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

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 viewers into believing that the news was authentic, the statement said.

“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. With this action, since December 2021, the ministry has issued directions for blocking of 102 YouTube based news channels and several other social media accounts. The government of India remains committed towards ensuring an authentic, trustworthy, and safe online news media environment, and thwart any attempts at undermining India’s sovereignty and integrity, national security, foreign relations and public order," it added.

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