The Indian government has taken down 22 other YouTube channels. They are the latest victims of a social media reform deemed controversial and extremely repressive.
Indian authorities have shut down more than 20 YouTube channels as part of a large-scale operation to counter disinformation and, more generally, reclaim control over big tech companies.
Overall, the Indian government-sanctioned YouTube channels had over 2.6 billion views.
India has a complex recent history of aggressive policies towards technology platforms . In January 2021, the Indian government shut down TikTok, along with a long list of other apps developed in China.
Also in 2021, the government had clashed with Twitter, guilty of having reported some posts published by the Bharatiya Janata Party , one of the majority parties, as disinformation. In May, the authorities showed up at Twitter’s Indian offices .
Authority-sanctioned YouTube channels are no longer viewable by anyone accessing the site with an Indian IP. Four of the sanctioned channels, writes Gizmodo , had been registered in Pakistan – the government has challenged them for publishing various “anti-India” contents , the videos, the authorities add, were promoted thanks to coordinated campaigns on Facebook and Twitter with the use of hundreds of (sometimes fake) accounts.
Most of the other channels were Indian and were accused of spreading ” disinformation about the war in Ukraine ” in an attempt to “undermine India’s international relations with some countries” allies (namely Russia).
According to the Indian authorities, the channels in question used various tactics to increase the virality of their content, for example by impersonating some popular Southeast Asian media outlets.
Since a controversial social media law came into force, YouTube has already taken down 78 different news outlets at the request of local authorities.
These channels – always writes Gizmodo – are the latest targets of the social media reform approved by the country in 2021. India requires every tech platform to quickly remove the contents reported by the government. Since the passage of the law, YouTube has already blocked 78 different news channels at the request of the authorities.
Also for this reason, it is not easy to interpret the recent government crackdown. While it is true that the channels in question used malicious tactics to increase the visibility of their content, it is also true that social media reform has often been used as a battering ram to bring down various content hostile to the currently incumbent government — for example some of the Previously blacked-out videos sharply criticized the Modi government’s handling of the pandemic.