YouTube fact-checking tool links Notre Dame fire to September 11 attack


YouTube’s plan to prevent fake news and the spread of misinformation has seriously backfired in the wake of the Notre Dame Cathedral fire.

The video sharing platform launched new information panels last year and said it would stop recommending related videos that could risk the spread of misinformation.

The Notre Dame Cathedral fire was potentially linked to a renovation project. Source: AP

However on Tuesday the new tool mistakenly linked a video of the Notre Dame blaze in Paris to the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001.

The Washington Post reports the fact boxes below the video provided details about September 11 and was likely linked to the Notre Dame fire because of fiery scenes computer algorithms would have detected in both videos.

Plumes of smoke were seen coming from the Notre Dame Cathedral. Source: AAP

September 11 has long been the target of hoaxes and conspiracy theories and the link caused speculation the Notre Dame Cathedral fire was in fact a terrorist attack.

The exact cause of the fire was not known, but French media quoted the Paris fire brigade as saying the fire is “potentially linked” to a $9.5 million renovation project on the church’s spire and its 250 tonnes of lead.

The Paris prosecutors’ office ruled out arson and possible terror-related motives, and said it was treating it as an accident.

Firefighters tackle the blaze. Source: Getty

YouTube told Yahoo News Australia in a statement it was 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,” a spokesman said.

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

“We are disabling these panels for livestreams related to the fire.”

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