The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Monday blocked 22 YouTube news channels, 4 social media accounts and a website using its powers under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules)..A press release issued on Tuesday stated that the blocked YouTube channels had over 260 crore viewers cumulatively.The channels "were used to spread fake news, and coordinated disinformation over social media on subjects sensitive from the perspective of national security, India’s foreign relations, and public order," the press release reads. This is the first time such action has been against Indian YouTube news publishers since the notification of the IT Rules in February last year..The blocked YouTube channels include 18 Indian and 4 Pakistan-based news channels, along with three Twitter accounts, one Facebook account, and one news website."Multiple YouTube channels were used to post fake news on various subjects such as the Indian Armed Forces, Jammu and Kashmir, etc. The content ordered to be blocked also included certain anti-India content posted from multiple social media accounts operated in a coordinated manner from Pakistan. It was observed that a significant amount of false content published by the these Indian YouTube based channels related to the ongoing situation in Ukraine, and aimed at jeopardizing India’s foreign relations with other countries" the press release stated.As per the press release, the blocked Indian YouTube channels used templates, thumbnails and logos of certain TV news channels, including images of their news anchors, to mislead viewers."...it was also observed that systematic anti-India fake news was originating from Pakistan.".The following are the names of the handles blocked on Monday:YouTube channels: ARP News, AOP News, LDC News, SarkariBabu, SS ZONE Hindi, Smart News, News23Hindi, Online Khabar, DP news, PKB News, KisanTak, Borana News, Sarkari News Update, Bharat Mausam, RJ ZONE 6, Exam Report, Digi Gurukul and DinBharKiKhabrein.Pakistan-based YouTube channels: DuniyaMeryAagy, Ghulam NabiMadni, HAQEEQAT TV, HAQEEQAT TV 2.0.Website: Dunya Mere AagyTwitter accounts (All Pakistan based): Ghulam NabiMadni, DunyaMeryAagy, Haqeeqat TVFacebook account: DunyaMeryAagy.Since December 2021, the Ministry has issued directions for blocking of 78 YouTube-based news channels and social media accounts on grounds of national security, sovereignty and integrity of India, public order etc.The Central government on separate occasions told the Delhi and Madras High Courts that the 2021 IT Rules do not create a chilling effect on free speech. The Bombay High Court had in August 2021 partially stayed the operation of Rules 9(1) and (3), after observing that criticism and acceptance of contra views is crucial in democracy.Sub-sections (1) and (3) of Rule 9 lay down adherence to the Code of Ethics which is annexed to the IT Rules, 2021 and provide for a three-tier structure for addressing the grievances made in relation to publishers.The Kerala High Court in July 2021 had issued notice to the Central government on a petition filed by the News Broadcasters Association challenging the IT Rules. The High Court had granted interim protection to the association, ordering that no coercive action should be taken against the petitioners for non-compliance of the Rules.