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YouTube's New Fact Check Tool Appeared To Flag Livestreams Of The Notre-Dame Fire As Fake News About 9/11

Chesnot/Getty Images, @bfishbfish/Twitter

The world is devastated over the Notre Dame cathedral fire that broke out on Monday in the midst of its ongoing renovation efforts.

The cause of the Paris fire remains unknown, as does the future of the cultural symbol of France.

Bystanders were shocked, and tearful as they witnessed the conflagration.

News outlets began sharing livestreams of the cathedral engulfed in flames on YouTube, but the content inadvertently flagged a feature meant to prevent misinformation.


Livestream viewers of the Notre Dame fire noticed a panel at the bottom of the screen tying some of the videos to the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 as part of a new feature on the platform.

Buzzfeed News said that the fact-checking information panel is part of YouTube's effort in preventing the spread of misinformation.

Buzzfeed clarified:

"To be clear: Videos containing misinformation can still appear in the search results, but YouTube will generate these disclaimers when a query involves sensitive topics, with the intent to inform viewers as the company deals with the spread of misinformation on the platform."

If a user clicked on the information panel, they would be redirected to articles relating to the U.S. terrorist attack.


The disclaimers have since been removed, but not before Twitter archived the gaffe.






A spokesperson for YouTube said an algorithm is responsible for invoking these "information panels" linking to third-party sources like Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia.

"These panels are triggered algorithmically and our systems sometimes make the wrong call. We are disabling these panels for livestreams related to the fire."

Twitter shared their theories about the technical glitch, while also raising questions about how the fire started.






The Paris prosecutor's office opened an investigation into the blaze and will look into it as an "involuntary destruction caused by fire."

Fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet confirmed that firefighters managed to prevent the fire from spreading towards the northern end of the belfry and that two-thirds of the cathedral's roof "has been ravaged."

Thanks to firefighters controlling the blaze, the iconic dual bell towers managed to survive the fire in addition to the main structure of the building, according to a government official and the Paris fire chief.