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Information and broadcasting ministry joint secretary Vikram Sahay today said based on fresh intelligence inputs, the government has directed social media platforms to block some accounts for spreading “fake news" and “anti-India news".

The informational and broadcasting ministry has issued directions for blocking 35 YouTube channels, 2 Twitter accounts, 2 Instagram accounts, 2 websites and a Facebook account, said Sahay. Sahay said all these accounts are operating from Pakistan and spread fake anti-India news and other content.

It was also observed that rampant fake news was spread through the YouTube channels regarding the demise of the former Chief of Defence Staff Late General Bipin Rawat.

Indian intelligence agencies were closely monitoring these social media accounts and websites, and flagged them to the Ministry for immediate action.

I&B Ministry Secretary Apurva Chandra said these YouTube channels have a subscriber base of 1.20 crore, with over 130 crore views. "Now since this process has started, I'm sure that more and more such channels will get blocked. Our Intelligence agencies are at work. We'll look forward to your support too," he added.

Modus Operandi

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 channels, and a set of two other channels were also found to be acting in synchronisation with each other.

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.

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