Govt blocks 104 YouTube channels, several social media accounts for threatening national security

The government ordered social media companies to block 1,643 user-generated URLs from 2021 to October 2022 under Section II of the IT Rules.

Abhik Sengupta

New Delhi,UPDATED: 23 Dec 2022 10:42 IST

Author: Abhik Sengupta: Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur has announced that the government has ordered companies to block 104 YouTube channels, 45 videos, four Facebook accounts, three Instagram accounts, five Twitter handles and six websites for threatening national security and spreading fake news. The social media handles and channels were blocked under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, which can be used to restrict access to content in the interests of the country’s sovereignty and integrity. The Union Minister disclosed this while replying to a query in the Rajya Sabha.

News agency PTI reported that MeitY directed social media companies to block 1,643 user-generated URLs, including web pages, websites, posts and accounts on social media platforms, from 2021 to October 2022 during IT II. Rules. The union minister said, “The government has taken measures according to these rules and if necessary, we will not hesitate to take such measures in the future”.

Among the YouTube channels, three fake news accounts, Aaj Tak Live, News Headlines and Sarkari Updates were also blocked. The government has clarified that the Aaj Tak Live YouTube page is not associated with the India Today Group. The YouTube account tricked viewers by using thumbnails of TV news channels and their anchors.

Earlier, the government used the same provision of the IT law to block Chinese apps and websites in the country. They blocked them to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the country. Popular Chinese apps banned in India include TikTok, WeChat, PUBG Mobile, CamScanner, Alibaba and Weibo. Krafton’s latest BGMI, an adapted version of PUBG Mobile for India, remains banned.

Meanwhile, global social media companies are also required to submit a monthly compliance report to the government under Rule 4(1)(d) of the Information Technology Act. According to WhatsApp’s November 2022 “user security report,” the platform banned 3,716,000 WhatsApp accounts before users reported it. They blocked them to “prevent harmful behavior on the platform”. WhatsApp’s Meta has released its compliance report and said its platforms, Facebook and Instagram, removed nearly 22.9 million messages in India in November.

Meta added: “Of the other 378 reports that required specialized review, we reviewed the content in accordance with our guidelines and took action on a total of 218 reports. The remaining 160 reports were reviewed but may not be auctioned.”

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