YouTube flags Notre Dame fire as 9/11 conspiracy, says system made ‘wrong call’
Soon after a fire engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday, news outlets began streaming live broadcasts on YouTube. Below several of the clips was an odd box of text: A snippet from Encyclopedia Britannica about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
YouTube, a division of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, introduced this text box feature last year to combat the spread of conspiracy theories, including those that question the 9/11 attacks. On Monday, YouTube’s software mistakenly labeled the plumes of smoke in Paris as footage from 2001, triggering the panel below the video.
“We are deeply saddened by the ongoing fire at the Notre Dame cathedral,” said a YouTube spokesman. “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.”
YouTube has been battered with criticism of the videos it surfaces and recommends around breaking news topics. The company has said it shows “tens of millions” of the text panels below videos each week.