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Indian Agencies Investigate YouTube Staff for Allegedly Shadow Banning Pro-Modi Content

© AFP 2023 LIONEL BONAVENTUREA picture taken on October 5, 2021 in Toulouse shows the logo of Youtube social media displayed by a by a tablet and a smartphone. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)
A picture taken on October 5, 2021 in Toulouse shows the logo of Youtube social media displayed by a by a tablet and a smartphone. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP) - Sputnik India, 1920, 03.06.2024
Many YouTubers who endorse the incumbent BJP party are allegedly encountering shadow bans and demonetization, significantly restricting their content's visibility.
Numerous YouTubers reporting a projected landslide victory for the BJP and a significant defeat for Rahul Gandhi's Congress Party are allegedly facing shadow bans and demonetization, effectively limiting the reach of their content.
Following the conclusion of polling for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections on June 1, the release of exit polls has marked a crucial period for political commentators and journalists. Many have shifted their focus to platforms such as YouTube, embracing roles as full-time YouTube journalists amid the growing influence of digital media.
YouTube creators affected by purported content bans have turned to social media to demand action against what they perceive as biased treatment by YouTube India and relevant ministries.
Prominent figures include senior journalist Ajeet Bharti, Editor of The New Indian Rohan Dua, TV journalist Sushant Sinha, The Jaipur Dialogues media platform, and YouTubers AKTK and Ankur Arya. However, their appeals have thus far gone unanswered.
Dua, who considers the restrictions to be "a criminal offence to influence polls", underlined on X that the videohosting has fostered anti-Modi sentiment.

"Beware| I’m hearing India’s intelligence agencies have been supplied with recorded conversations of 17 @YouTubeIndia employees in India who explicitly wrote & spoke instructions on how to shadow ban any neutral coverage & promote anti @narendramodi trash," Dua highlighted the alleged collusion affecting press freedom.

He then elaborated that among the employees suspected of manipulating the YouTube algorithm, implementing arbitrary bans on 93 journalists and 42 channels that provided impartial coverage of the BJP during the recent election, are five females and 12 males hailing from different states of India.
At the same time, Dua noted that his channel has faced similar shadow bans, evidence of which is being submitted to the Delhi High Court and police with legal assistance to expose the corruption and entrenched criminal connections under IPC Sections 120B and IT 2021 which outlaw criminal conspiracy.
The journalist believes that it is a clear instance of "criminal conspiracy under IPC Sections 127A, 120B, and 171B/R bribery charges".

The accusations suggest that whenever pro-Modi creators mention opposition leaders or individuals from the I.N.D.I Alliance, their videos are flagged for inappropriate content and demonetized. Creators are then required to raise the issue, prompting a response from the team, which typically takes two to three days. During this delay, the news becomes stale, reducing the video’s relevance and viewership.

"In the last 45 days, YouTube demonetised 35 videos and re-monetised 32 of them upon appeal. It took them 2-5 days to re-monetise, meaning even if they did it after 12 hours, it resulted in zero revenue for creators. Just imagine – they were wrong 32 out of 35 times during the peak election period," Bharti underscored on X.
A different content creator referred to as String and recognized as Vinod, experienced the removal of his YouTube channel due to alleged breaches of community guidelines. On September 20, 2023, YouTube took decisive action against the "String" channel, permanently deleting it due to numerous violations. The primary reason cited by YouTube for this removal was severe or repeated breaches of their Community Guidelines.
Vinod subsequently lodged a petition against YouTube and Google in the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
The Union Cabinet Minister Smriti Irani has raised concerns regarding YouTube's alleged targeting of creators who endorse the BJP-faced demonetization.
n election official checks a voters record in a register before allowing him to cast his ballot in a bypoll for an assembly seat in Dharmsala, India, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. - Sputnik India, 1920, 01.06.2024
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