The Press Information Bureau (PIB) Fact Check Unit (FCU) said on Tuesday that it has busted three YouTube channels that were spreading misleading information in India, following a series of over 40 fact-checks. According to the bureau these YouTube channels had about 33 lakh subscribers and their videos, almost all of which were found to be false, garnered over 30 crore views.
This is the first time, according to a statement, that PIB has exposed entire YouTube channels against individual posts on social media for promoting false information. The YouTube channels in question are News Headlines, which has 9.67 lakh subscribers and over 31 crore views; Sarkari Update, which has 22.6 lakh subscribers and over eight lakh views; and आज तक LIVE, which has 65.6 thousand subscribers and over one crore views.
The statement cited fake news such as the ‘Supreme Supreme Court has ruled that future elections will be conducted by ballot papers,’ the ‘Government giving money to people who have bank accounts, Aadhar Cards, and PAN cards,’ and the ‘ban on EVMs,’ among others.
According to the PIB statement, the YouTube channels were found to be using fake and sensational thumbnails with logos of TV channels and photographs of their news anchors to mislead viewers into believing the news was legitimate. These channels were also found to be placing ads on their videos, thus monetising misinformation on YouTube.
The PIB Fact Check Unit’s action follows the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s recent blocking of over a hundred YouTube channels.