On Thursday, India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting announced that it had banned eight YouTube channels, seven based in India and one from Pakistan. It claimed that the channels were banned under the IT Rules 2021, which prohibit the “spreading disinformation related to India’s national security, foreign relations and public order.”
“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,” the ministry said in a statement.
According to the ministry, the channels had a combined subscriber number of 8,700,000 and viewership of 1.14 billion.
The statement continued to say: “Examples include fake news such as the Government of India to have ordered demolition of religious structures… to have banned celebration of religious festivals, declaration of religious war in India… Such content was found to have the potential to create communal disharmony and disturb public order in the country.”
“The YouTube channels were also used to post fake news on various subjects such as the Indian Armed Forces, Jammu and Kashmir, etc. 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 channels were further accused of using “fake and sensational thumbnails, images of news anchors and logos of certain TV news channels to mislead viewers to believe that the news was authentic.”
The statement added that the Indian government “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.”