YouTube Blocks ‘Millat Times’ Channel Over Covid Lockdown Report

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Editor of the channel Shams Tabrez Qasmi refutes the claim saying the video report was based on facts and did not spread misinformation about Covid-19

Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Millat Times, the trilingual news website which mainly reports news of Muslims, has its account blocked by YouTube for a week after it published a video showing a protest report by labourers against coronavirus lockdown in Mumbai.

The action has restricted the ability of the news outlet to post content on its YouTube channel. The action also includes a strike for 90 days as a warning to the channel to a two-week block if repeated again permanent suspension if the community standards are violated thrice in three months.  The channel of the Delhi-based outlet has more than 8 lakh subscribers on YouTube and is popular among the Madrassa-affiliated Muslims in India.

The video platform giant first deleted the video, a couple of hours after it was uploaded on April 9 and then the account was blocked following a review by its team which found that the video violated the platform’s medical misinformation policy enforced in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The video titled ‘People Continue Protest Against Lockdown, Gherao CM’s House’ showed people expressing their resentment against the restrictions enforced by the Maharashtra government to curb the second wave of coronavirus.

YouTube’s Covid-19 community standards does not allow content that contradicts the World Health organization (WHO) or local health authorities’ medical information about Covid-19, including methods to prevent, treat, or diagnose the infection and means of its transmission.

Shams Tabrez Qasmi, Millat Times Editor-in-Chief, however, refuted YouTube’s claim saying that the video report was based on facts and did not spread misinformation about Covid-19.

Qasmi said that he has written an email to YouTube urging the company to unblock the channel.

Social media companies in India are increasingly facing accusations of taking punitive actions in an opaque manner against accounts that are critical of the government.

In September last year, YouTube deleted a video report of Millat Times on mob lynching citing violation of community standards. Even then, Qasmi said, there was no clarity on how the news report violated community standards.

“The action against our channel raises questions on YouTube being an independent platform,” he said. “The company seems to be agreeing to whatever the government demands from it.”

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