These channels, with more than 100 crore views, were all based in Pakistan, ministry officials said. They were involved in spreading “anti-India fake news in a coordinated manner over digital media”, ministry said.

Recently the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has issued orders to ban 35 more channels on the online social media platform after receiving intelligence inputs against them. A month after it invoked new powers under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 to get 20 YouTube channels banned. Ministry officials said these channels, with more than 100 crore views, were all based in Pakistan. It is said that they were involved in spreading “anti-India fake news in a coordinated manner over digital media”.

That five separate orders were issued to block the websites and YouTube channels after intelligence agencies, which were closely monitoring these social media accounts and websites, flagged them to the ministry for “immediate action”. The ministry issued issued the orders to block them immediately after it received the intelligence inputs recently, the ministry said in a statement. The ministry also said, the 35 accounts were all operating from Pakistan, and were identified to be part of four coordinated disinformation networks. It identified two of them as Apni Duniya Network, which was operating 14 YouTube channels, and Talha Films Network, which was operating 13 YouTube channels. “All these networks appeared to be operated with a single goal of spreading fake news oriented towards the Indian audience,” the ministry said.

The channels used common hashtags and editing styles, and cross promoted each other’s content. Some of the channels were being operated by anchors of Pakistani TV news channels.

I & B

Some of the channels were being operated by anchors of Pakistani TV news channels.

“The channels propagated content to encourage separatism, divide India 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 commission of crimes adversely affecting public order in the country,” the ministry statement said. Speaking to reporters, I&B Secretary Apurva Chandra said the channels had combined subscribers strength of 1.2 crore and had more than 130 crore views. These, he said, were “very, very toxic channels”. “It was sort of a war against the country. War of misinformation”.

The ministry invoked Section 69A of IT Act, 2000 to get the channels blocked. Chandra said that “in December last year, the ministry had blocked 20 YouTube channels and two websites after receiving intelligence inputs. Fresh intelligence inputs were received by the ministry on Thursday. The common factor in the blocked channels was that “they operate from Pakistan and spread fake anti-India content”.

Further he highlighted that the content was on “serious issues” such as “Indian Armed Forces, Jammu and Kashmir, India’s foreign relations, separatist ideas,” and the recent death of Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat. 

Apurva Chandra

Further he highlighted that the content was on “serious issues” such as “Indian Armed Forces, Jammu and Kashmir, India’s foreign relations, separatist ideas,” and the recent death of Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat.