YouTube's new tool for battling misinformation mistakenly linked videos of the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US and later issued an apology for the "wrong call".
As images of the iconic tower falling played on newscasts around the world on Monday - and on the YouTube channels mirroring those newscasts - "information panels" appeared in boxes below the videos providing details about the collapses of New York's World Trade Center after the terrorist attack, which killed thousands of people.
The video giant later said that the new fact-checking tool made "the wrong call" when it displayed text about 9/11 in several videos of the Paris cathedral burning.
"We are deeply saddened by the ongoing fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral," a YouTube spokesperson was quoted as saying by ABC News. "These panels are triggered algorithmically and our systems sometimes make the wrong call. We are disabling these panels for live streams related to the fire."
YouTube introduced the fact-checking feature last year to curb the spread of conspiracy theories online, including those that question the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre.
The algorithm is supposed to show information panels with links to third party sources like Encyclopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia while displaying videos on subjects that are rife for conspiracies, according to the company.
The YouTube gaffe came just a month after the video giant and Facebook struggled for hours to detect and block video of a mass shooting at a New Zealand mosque that Internet users were posting and reposting.
The appearance of the information panels fed a wave of baseless speculation on social media that the Notre Dame fire was a terrorist attack.
On Twitter, some users falsely asserted that the fire was sparked by Muslim terrorists. However, authorities in Paris blamed ongoing renovations at the cathedral and cited no evidence of terrorism.
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