YouTube showed a link to 9/11 info on Notre Dame fire videos

The Google-owned site says its algorithm made the "wrong call."

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva

YouTube has stopped showing the 9/11 link.


While the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned on Monday, YouTube placed a link under live coverage of the fire to information about the 9/11 attacks.

The link, which YouTube said was placed under videos by mistake, was eventually removed. The video site's algorithms may have misinterpreted the imagery from the videos as footage from the World Trade Center tragedy.

"Last year, we launched information panels with links to third-party sources like Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia for subjects subject to misinformation," a YouTube spokesman said in a statement. "These panels are triggered algorithmically and our systems sometimes make the wrong call. We are disabling these panels for livestreams related to the fire."

The information panel gave basic information on the 9/11 attacks and linked to an entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica.  

"September 11 attacks, also called 9/11 attacks, series of airline hijackings and suicide attacks committed in 2001 by 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda against targets in the United States, the deadliest terrorist attacks on American soil in U.S. history," the panel read.

The panel mishap comes as YouTube, which is owned by Google, faces intense criticism over the unintended consequences of its algorithms. The site has received blowback for its recommendation algorithms, which some have argued could lead some viewers toward videos with fringe or extremist viewpoints. 

Watch this: Google requiring full benefits for temps, YouTube sat on warnings