The Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Thursday said it has blocked eight YouTube-based news channels and one Facebook account for spreading fake news that had potential to cause communal disharmony. 

Seven of the eight were India-based YouTube news channels and one was Pakistan-based. 

“The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, utilising the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021, has issued orders on 16.08.2022 for blocking of eight (8) YouTube-based news channels, one (1) Facebook account, and two Facebook posts,” a ministry statement said.

The blocked YouTube channels had a cumulative viewership of over 114 crore and over 85 lakh subscribers.

“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,” it said.

It added that the  content was found to have the potential to disturb public order.

“The YouTube channels were also 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 and India’s friendly relations with foreign States,” the ministry stated. 

“The content blocked by the Ministry was found to be detrimental to 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.” 

The channels were using fake and sensational thumbnails, images of news anchors and logos of certain TV news channels to mislead viewers into believing the news was authentic, it added. 

Since December 2021, the Ministry has ordered the blocking of 102 YouTube-based news channels and several other social media accounts.