- As the Notre-Dame Cathedral was struck by a devastating fire on Monday, a new YouTube feature in the US and South Korea displayed an information panel related the September 11 terror attacks.
- YouTube’s panels are meant to combat misinformation and conspiracy theories by linking to verified sources on trending news subjects.
- The information panels were automatically triggered as the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral captured global attention; YouTube says it has disabled the panels for live streams related to the fire.
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A YouTube feature designed to stop the spread of misinformation became a major source of confusion on Monday. Multiple YouTube viewers tracking the devastating fire at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris reported that live streams and news videos were displaying an information panel related to the September 11 terror attacks in the US.
YouTube’s algorithm automatically determines when a subject is trending news and attaches an information panel automatically. The information panel feature is only available in the US and South Korea as of now, and is meant to provide news from verified sources and counter videos that share conspiracy theories and false narratives.
So far, there have been no reports of the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire being a terrorist attack, so it’s unclear why YouTube would link the two events together.
Read more: YouTube’s algorithm is under fire for boosting a sexist conspiracy theory about black-hole researcher Katie Bouman
The effect of the error was limited due to the restricted reach of the feature; YouTube viewers in France were not subjected to the 9/11 information when watching video of the fire. When asked for comment, YouTube said the 9/11 panel was mistakenly triggered.
“We are deeply saddened by the ongoing fire at the Notre-Dame cathedral,” a YouTube spokesperson told Business Insider. “Last year, we launched information panels with links to third party sources like Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia for subjects subject to misinformation. These panels are triggered algorithmically and our systems sometimes make the wrong call. We are disabling these panels for live streams related to the fire.”
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