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YouTube mistakenly links Notre Dame fire to September 11 attacks

A YouTube feature designed to combat misinformation offered some of its own during a major news event Monday: It linked the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The company blamed the mixup on its algorithms.

A label with a paragraph pulled from the Encyclopedia Britannica provided background for the 2001 September 11 terrorist attacks under multiple YouTube livestreams of the fire, including those posted by NBC News, CBS News, and France 24.

The fire broke out in Paris on Monday evening. The cause is currently unknown. Videos and pictures of the flames quickly began emerging on social media.

In a statement to CNN Business, a YouTube spokesperson said it was aware and looking into the issue.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

YouTube said it launched the information panels last year with links to third party-sources, such as Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia, for topics subject to misinformation.

YouTube rolled out its fact-checking feature in 2018 in an attempt to help tackle misinformation. The move came after the site was criticized for recommending conspiracy videos following major news events like the mass shooting in Las Vegas — the deadliest slaughtering in modern US history.

The company first announced the feautre a blog post last July, saying that third-party fact checks from reputable sources would appear “alongside videos on a small number of well-established historical and scientific topics that have often been subject to misinformation, like the moon landing and the Oklahoma City Bombing.”

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