In 2018, YouTube introduced its knowledge panel feature in a bid to prevent users from consuming misinformation on the platform, including conspiracy theories pertaining to the 11 September 2001 terror attacks.
YouTube users in the US and South Korea who watched Monday’s livestreams of the burning Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, were greeted with a small gray panel titled “September 11 attacks”, which contained a snippet from an Encyclopedia Britannica article about the 9/11 event.
YouTube was quick to explain in a statement that the platform “launched information panels with links to third-party sources like Encyclopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia for subjects subject to misinformation”.
“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 statement pointed out.
Many Twitter users have, meanwhile, expressed indignation about what some described as YouTube’s “crazy” move to install its knowledge panel feature underneath the Notre Dame Cathedral livestreams.
This is so crazy! When I looked up videos of the Notre Dame fire in Paris, YouTube put links to an encyclopedia entry on the September 11 attacks.
This was on multiple channels: France 24, CBS, and ABC.
We have no evidence this is an attack. But YouTube linked it to 9/11. Why?! pic.twitter.com/UIxpPCQAqx
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) April 15, 2019
Others called YouTube a “joke”, adding that the platform has turned into “a parody of itself”.
Their algorithms are garbage
— Devin Nunes’s Neighbor’s Uncle’s Beagle (@MrChrisWinner) April 15, 2019
— Joshua Benton (@jbenton) April 15, 2019
YouTube has attached an info panel on 9/11 to France 24's streaming coverage of Notre Dame. Deeply strange decision, especially given there is no indication as yet of terrorist involvement. When you click on the menu you get the explanation on the right: "topical context" pic.twitter.com/jb3kMrXQb5
— Barry Malone (@malonebarry) April 15, 2019
Man YouTube used to be funny videos and music. It’s gone to hell. More bad than good on that Hellsite
— I would die for Arya Stark (@TripNippleKing) April 15, 2019
YouTube has turned into a parody of itself
— Stacy (@SJ_1283) April 15, 2019
What the hell? Is YouTube owned the by Trump administration?
— Stephanie Marie 💜🦄🐘🐞🌻 (@St3ph3rs_83) April 15, 2019
YouTube is a joke
— beta cuck (@CntGetTheCapOff) April 15, 2019
Another day another YouTube mess up. What's new.
— oh look, BTS actually (@Dumblucktechie) April 15, 2019
I'm so glad we let tech platforms eat the journalism industry.
Now, I can sit and watch a live stream of Notre Dame burning while YouTube's fake news widget tells me about 9/11 for some reason. pic.twitter.com/FhAtE4DqtB
— Ryan Broderick (@broderick) April 15, 2019
Moderating livestreams remains an issue for YouTube, which, in particular, disabled comments on a livestream of the US congressional hearing on white nationalism and social media.