YouTube’s fact check panels were supposed to help debunk conspiracy theories, but they just backfired in an unfortunate fashion. The internet giant has disabled the algorithmically-provided panels on live videos of the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral fire after at least one video displayed a fact panel for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, implying that the coverage was a fake news story about the New York City tragedy.
A YouTube spokesperson didn’t directly explain the cause to CNBC, but said that the company sometimes “make[s] the wrong call” with its algorithms.
The incident underscores YouTube’s ongoing issues with automation. While the site needs algorithms to moderate the massive volumes of content uploaded every day, it’s not prepared to handle every possible situation and may have shortcomings that aren’t immediately evident. Unfortunately, YouTube is discovering this flaw in the midst of a sad moment in French history.