YouTube Algorithm Mistakes Notre Dame Cathedral Fire for 9/11
Flames rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris.
Flames rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris.(Photo: AP)

YouTube Algorithm Mistakes Notre Dame Cathedral Fire for 9/11

YouTube's Information Panel tool, designed to handle misinformation, failed miserably when it came to the Notre Dame Cathedral blaze in Paris – it linked the video of the fire to the 9/11 terrorist attack in the US, a Washington Post report said.

As the videos of the iconic cathedral on fire played on newscasts, the Information Panels in the boxes below provided the details of the 9/11 attack on New York’s World Trade Center.

The report said that the slip-up underscored the limitations within the concept of machine learning in terms of battling misinformation. Artificial Intelligence in the YouTube tool, as per the report, mistook the incident for the 9/11 attack likely because of the similar visuals.

The lapse comes as a big setback for tech giants, who have invested heavily in fighting misinformation, using all sorts of machine learning and human resources. According to the Washington Post report, major tech giants have hired tens of thousands of human moderators in the recent years, while Silicon valley executives have time and again said that computers are faster and more efficient at detecting problems.

According to a Buzzfeed report, YouTube acknowledged the failure.

The appearance of the information panels also fed a wave of baseless speculation on social media that the fire was a terrorist attack. On Twitter, some users falsely asserted that the fire was started by Muslim terrorists. Authorities in Paris blamed the ongoing renovations at the cathedral and cited no evidence of terrorism.

(With inputs from The Washington Post.)

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