Three YouTube channels were identified by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) on Tuesday for “spreading fake news” regarding the government, its plans, the election commission, the Supreme Court, and even the prime minister. According to a statement from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, the YouTube channels News Headlines, Sarkari Update, and Aaj Tak Live have more than 30 crore total views on their videos and close to 33 lakh subscribers.
The “fact check” team of the PIB uploaded screenshots of videos produced by the aforementioned YouTube channels through a series of 40 tweets on Tuesday morning, almost all of which, according to the PIB, were deemed to be false.
Government of India strikes den of misinformation on YouTube
💠@PIBFactCheck exposes 3 YouTube channels spreading fake news
💠YouTube channels fact-checked by PIB had nearly 33 lakh subscribers, over 30 crore views
Read here: https://t.co/UekXJ0P5mH
— PIB India (@PIB_India) December 20, 2022
According to the report, News Headlines has 9.67 million members, followed by Sarkari Update and Aaj Tak Live with 22.6 million and 65,000, respectively.
The PIB has never before singled out YouTube channels for propagating fake news. Videos saying that the Supreme Court has decided that future elections will be held using ballots and that the government is paying money to those who have bank accounts, Aadhaar, and PAN are two examples of fake news the PIB cited.
According to the statement, “the YouTube channels were observed to be using fake and sensational thumbnails with logos of TV channels and images of their news anchors to mislead the viewers into believing that the news was authentic.” These channels were also discovered to be showing advertisements on their videos, which allowed them to profit from spreading false information.
Invoking emergency powers under the IT Rules-2021, the ministry has disabled more than 100 YouTube channels over the course of the last year for broadcasting material that “had the potential to foment sectarian strife and undermine public order in the country.”
The three YouTube channels that were “busted” on Tuesday, according to official sources, haven’t yet been disabled because the content didn’t qualify for emergency measures.