9 YouTube channels flagged for spreading ‘fake news’

Parvez Sultan

NEW DELHI: The Fact Check Unit of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) on Friday flagged nine YouTube channels for spreading fake news, attributing false derogatory statements to top constitutional functionaries and making misleading claims about the Indian Army. 

Two of them — Aapke Guruji and Bajrang Education— have significantly high numbers of subscribers, 34 lakh and 24 lakh respectively. Put together, the nine channels on the popular online video sharing platform have 83 lakh subscribers.

The fact-checking division of the PIB has also released multiple threads of ‘X’ pertaining to the false information being spread by the channels. “YouTube channels exposed by PIB Fack Check Unit misattributed derogatory statements to persons occupying constitutional positions, including Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister of India, and Chief Election Commissioner.

Some channels falsely claimed imposition of President’s rule in certain states, ban on electronic voting machines, and resignation or death of ministers. Fake news includes ban on `200 and `500 currency notes, closures of banks and false information related to the schemes and policies of the Government of India,” said officials. False claims also relate to natural disasters and deaths of, deployment of armed forces and closure of schools.

The FCU in operation since November 2019 has been calling out digital channels and users on social media intermediaries peddling fake news content. Action taken by FCU follows blocking of YouTube channels and social media handles. Officials said monetisation of fake news on YouTube is a serious concern as the perpetrators use clickbait or sensational false thumbnails to drive traffic.

The names and content being broadcast by them give an impression that the channels are based in India. The officials are, however, not certain. Since December 2022, the Press Information Bureau has exposed 26 YouTube channels, which regularly publish false information on YouTube. Additionally over 120 YouTube channels were blocked by the Centre under the provisions of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

“The ministry has been issuing directions to block social media handles and digital channels, which were accused of spreading fake information intended to create disorder and spread misinformation on subjects sensitive from the perspective of national security, India’s foreign relations, and public order,” said ministry officials.