Government blocks 8 YouTube channels ‘monetizing the Hindu-Muslim divide’

The Center has blocked eight YouTube channels, using emergency rules under the Computer Law. One of the blocked channels was “News Ki Duniya”, based in Pakistan, while the other seven operated from India. Blocked Indian YouTube channels are Loktantra TV, U&V TV, AM Razvi, Gouravshali Pawan Mithilanchal, SeeTop5TH, Sarkari Update and Sab Kuch Dekho.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting alleged that the channels were “spreading false content”. They included false claims that the “Center has banned the celebration of Eid” and “the army has taken control of the Ajmer Dargah”. The channels had millions of subscribers and “monetized by ‘creating discord in public order’ and problems for Hindu Muslims”, the ministry said in a news release in New Delhi on Thursday.

Blocked channels had a cumulative audience of over 1.14 billion and subscribed to over 8.5 million users. So far, the ministry has issued instructions to block 102 YouTube news channels and several other social media accounts.

All YouTube channels blocked by the ministry displayed advertisements on their videos with “false content harmful to communal harmony, public order and India’s external relations, J&K, sovereignty and justice. India’s integrity, national security, external relations and public order,” the statement said.

Ministry alleged blocked Indian YouTube channels used fake and sensational thumbnails, images of news anchors and logos of some TV news channels to mislead viewers about India’s friendly relations with states foreigners and on public order in the country. The content was covered by Section 69A of the Information Technology Act 2000, the statement said.

Blocked Indian YouTube channels have been observed to “use fake and sensational thumbnails, images of news anchors and logos of certain TV news channels to mislead viewers into believing that the news is genuine” , he alleged.

Raymond T. Helms