YouTube is suggesting viewers read about 9/11 during Notre Dame-related streams, for some reason pic.twitter.com/mqNxVs5BSe
— jordan (@JordanUhl) April 15, 2019
There are limits to what algorithms can do, especially in times of tragedy.
As flames engulfed Paris’s Notre-Dame Cathedral on Monday evening, several news outlets began live streaming the fire on YouTube. Underneath several of these videos was a small gray panel titled “September 11 attacks,” which contained a blurb from the Encyclopedia Britannica’s article about the September 11 terrorist attacks.
— Joshua Benton (@jbenton) April 15, 2019
Ironically, YouTube’s crackdown on fake news has lead to its own propagation of misinformation. The widget description popped up on at least three livestreams by major news outlets, erroneously conflating the Notre-Dame fire with the “deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in US history.” The captions have since been removed.
In a statement, a YouTube spokesperson said that these “information panels” are activated by an algorithm.
“These panels are triggered algorithmically and our systems sometimes make the wrong call,” the spokesperson added. “We are disabling these panels for livestreams related to the fire.”
YouTube has had trouble moderating its livestreams, as all social media platforms have. The information panels are only available in the United States and South Korea, according to a website disclaimer.
I’m so glad we let tech platforms eat the journalism industry.
Now, I can sit and watch a live stream of Notre Dame burning while YouTube’s fake news widget tells me about 9/11 for some reason. pic.twitter.com/FhAtE4DqtB
— Ryan Broderick (@broderick) April 15, 2019
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