YouTube’s Algorithm Messes Up, Shows 9/11 Facts During Live Streaming Of Notre Dame Fire

Notre Dame Paris
Notre Dame Paris
Image credit: BBC/YouTube

When the world watched in horror as the beloved French masterpiece, the Notre Dame Cathedral, went up in flames this week, a small section of Twitter users noticed that live streaming of the disaster on YouTube had a small information panel at the bottom which said “September 11 attack”.

An online news portal reported that the at least three YouTube videos of the Notre Dame disaster, which were being streamed by major news channels, showcased information picked up from the Encyclopedia Britannica about the 9/11 attacks.

These panels are triggered algorithmically and our systems sometimes make the wrong call.

Ironically, this panel feature was introduced by YouTube to tackle fake news and stop the spreading of misinformation. This algorithmically-generated feature and its huge goof-up in the face of a global news showcases that there’s very little human intervention or monitoring involved in the process.


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A tech news website reached out to the video streaming platform for a quote and a spokesperson told them, “We are deeply saddened by the ongoing fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral. 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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Prajakta Hebbar
Prajakta is a Writer/Editor/Social Media diva. Lover of all that is 'quaint', her favourite things include dogs, Starbucks, butter popcorn, Jane Austen novels and neo-noir films. She has previously worked for HuffPost, CNN IBN, The Indian Express and Bose.

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