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Ministry of I&B blocks 35 YouTube channels and 2 websites funded by Pakistan for spreading anti-India fake news

The YouTube accounts blocked by the Ministry had a total subscriber base of over 1 crore 20 lakh, and their videos had over 130 crore views

In a major crackdown against networks peddling anti-India propaganda under the garb of news, the ministry of information and broadcasting has blocked 2 websites and 35 YouTube channels funded by Pakistan for spreading anti-India fake news. The order of blocking these networks was announced on Friday 21st January 2022 in the evening by the press and information bureau.

The order mentions that “The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has ordered blocking of 35 YouTube-based news channels and 2 websites which were involved in spreading anti-India fake news in a coordinated manner over digital media. The YouTube accounts blocked by the Ministry had a total subscriber base of over 1 crore 20 lakh, and their videos had over 130 crore views. Additionally, two Twitter accounts, two Instagram accounts, and one Facebook account have also been blocked by the Government for being involved in spreading coordinated anti-India disinformation over the internet.”

The PIB in its press release regarding this order has further said, “Vide five separate orders issued under rule 16 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the Ministry has ordered to block these Pakistan based social media accounts and websites.” It must be noted that these social media accounts and websites were closely monitored by Indian intelligence agencies and the agencies had flagged them to the Ministry for immediate action.

The YouTube channels that have been blocked are:

  1. Khabar with Facts
  2. Khabar Taiz
  3. Global Truth
  4. New Global Facts
  5. Information Hub
  6. Flash Now
  7. Faisal Tarar Speaks
  8. Apni Dunya TV
  9. Haqeekat ki Dunia
  10. Shahzad Abbas
  11. Mera Pakistan With Shahab
  12. Khabar With Ahmad
  13. HR Tv
  14. Sabee Kazmi
  15. Such Tv Network
  16. Saqib Speaks
  17. Salman Haidar Official
  18. Sajid Gondal Speaks
  19. Maleeha Hashmey
  20. Umar Daraz Gondal
  21. Khoji TV
  22. Khoji TV 2.0
  23. Cover Point
  24. Junaid Flix
  25. National Studio
  26. Informative world
  27. DunyaOfficial
  28. Studio360
  29. Haqeeqat Tv News
  30. Haqeeqat TV 786
  31. Bol Media TV
  32. Urdu Studio
  33. Zaki Abbas
  34. White News
  35. DNow

The websites that have been blocked are White News and DNow.

Coordinated conspiracy to spread fake news against India

Explaining the modus operandi of the said social media handles and websites, the PIB has further said in its press release “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 synchronization with each other.”

PIB has further clarified that the sole purpose of operating these networks was spreading fake news especially oriented towards the Indian audience. The PIB has also mentioned how the common factors in the contents of those channels were identified by the agencies. It said “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.”

What fake content the channels were sharing?

The PIB press release has also identified and specified the contents shared by these networks which primarily includes spreading fake news about Indian armed forces. Efforts were also being made by these networks to spread the content that may potentially undermine the democratic processes in the upcoming assembly elections in the five states.

PIB has said “The YouTube channels, websites, and other social media accounts blocked by the Ministry were used by Pakistan for spreading anti-India fake news about sensitive subjects related to India. These include topics such as the Indian Army, Jammu and Kashmir, and India’s foreign relations with other countries. It was 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. These YouTube channels had also started posting content to undermine the democratic process of the upcoming elections in five states.”

These youtube channels and other social media handles have also been attempting to encourage separatism in India based on religious lines. The content shared by them was a potential inciter of the acts of crime in the society which would, in turn, affect the law and order situation in the country. Citing this, PIB has said “The channels propagated content to encourage separatism, divide India based on the lines of religion, and create animosity among the various sections of the Indian society. Such information was feared to have the potential to incite the audience into the commission of crimes adversely affecting public order in the country.”

The list of the blocked networks

The latest blocklist as shared by the PIB includes 14 channels from the ‘Apni Duniya Network’. The channels ‘Faisal Tarar Speaks’ and ‘Apni Dunya TV’ were peddling false news that India is defeated by China in Ladakh and forced to engage China in the talks. The channels ‘Haqeekat ki Dunia’, ‘Shahzad Abbas’, and ‘Mera Pakistan With Shahab’ were sharing fake news about Hindu-Sikh fights in India and the government’s failure to cope with that. These channels also shared some content on how Pakistan is overpowering India in various sectors ranging from cricket to the military. The channel ‘Khabar With Ahmad’ was seen sharing fake news about Khalistan and the conversion of Hindus into Islam in big numbers. Another channel ‘HR Tv’ had ill-reported the accidental demise of Late General Bipin Rawat. Other such channels are ‘Sabee Kazmi’, ‘Such Tv Network’, ‘Saqib Speaks’, ‘Salman Haidar Official’, ‘Sajid Gondal Speaks’, ‘Maleeha Hashmey’, and ‘Umar Daraz Gondal’. Similarly, there are 13 youtube channels of Talha Films and 8 other youtube channels which are now blocked.

White News and DNow News are the two websites that are blocked by the ministry of information and broadcasting.

This is not the first time that the government of India has taken action against such websites and social media channels. Earlier in December 2021, the government of India had blocked 20 YouTube channels and 2 websites in December 2021 when the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021 were first utilized to act against such anti-India fake news networks. 

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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