In a series of over 40 fact-checks, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) Fact Check Unit (FCU) announced on Tuesday that it has busted three YouTube channels which were spreading false information in India. According to the bureau, these YouTube channels had nearly 33 lakh subscribers and their videos, almost all of which were found to be false, had over 30 crore views.
According to a statement, this is the first time that PIB has exposed entire YouTube channels against individual posts on social media for spreading false claims. The YouTube channels in question are News Headlines which has 9.67 lakh subscribers and over 31 crore views; Sarkari Update which had 22.6 lakh subscribers and over eight lakh views; and आज तक LIVE with 65.6 thousand subscribers and over one crore views.
According to PIB, These YouTube channels had spread false and sensational claims about the Supreme Court of India, the Chief Justice of India, various government schemes, Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), farm loan waivers, among others. The statement gave examples of fake news such as the ‘Supreme Court has ruled that future elections would be conducted by ballot papers’, ‘Government giving money to people who have bank accounts, Aadhar Cards and PAN cards’, and ‘ban on EVMs’, among others.
As per the statement released by PIB, 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 to believe that the news was authentic. These channels were also found to be displaying advertisements on their videos, and monetising misinformation on YouTube.
Action taken by PIB Fact Check Unit follows the blocking of over one hundred YouTube channels by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in the past year, it added.