Centre blocked 60 ‘Pakistan-backed’ YouTube channels that were spreading fake news against govt: Murugan

New Delhi: The Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Thursday informed the Rajya Sabha that it had blocked 60 Pakistan-backed YouTube channels which were circulating fake news against the government.

Responding to a question by BJP lawmaker Lt General DP Vats(Retd), Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Dr L. Murugan stated that the government has blocked 60 YouTube channels, including their social media accounts such as twitter, facebook and Instagram which were involved in circulating fake news against the Indian government and were backed by Pakistan.

To other question by Congress lawmaker Vivek Tankha, the Minister further said that the Press Council of India(PCI) is a statutory autonomous body taking care of the journalists’ ethical code. The PCI under section 14 of the PCI Act can take an action against a journalist who does not act according to the ethics. Under Section 14, actions have been taken against over 150 journalists so far.

Tankha had asked whether fake news can be disseminated by the You Tube only. It has been also circulated by the newspapers and why there was no need for the PCI yet since November, and why has the government not done anything about it.

Replying to a question by TMC MP Mausam Noor on the manipulation of fake news by a particular app to manipulate the social media algorithms, Murugan informed the House that a ‘Fact Check’ unit has been set up in his Ministry and any citizen can write or email to that unit regarding the fake news related issues.

“The government has issued a Whatsapp number too and so far, we have responded to over 13,000 complaints. We also respond to the fake news which gets viral and certify that the news is fake.

To a question by RJD lawmaker Manoj Kumar Jha on measures taken to curb online harassment of women journalists, he said that since it is an IPC offence, and is a State subject, the union government cannot act on it.

The Ministry is in the process of examining the recommendations of a government constituted 10-member committee for the welfare of the journalists.

Murugan, while replying to Congress MP Neeraj Dange, said that Rs 6.15 crore has been granted as compensation to the families of the journalists who lost their lives during Covid pandemic.

He also said that the government conducted a special drive to help the families of 123 journalists who died during this pandemic.


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