Notre-Dame fire and misinformation

One of this year’s darkest events was the burning of the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, France. While the citizens of the country and the world prayed and mourned for the architectural disaster, misinformation about the blast spread. Many news organisations used YouTube services...

One of this year’s darkest events was the burning of the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, France. While the citizens of the country and the world prayed and mourned for the architectural disaster, misinformation about the blast spread.

Many news organisations used YouTube services to broadcast the event of the burning cathedral. However, YouTube’s set algorithms falsely flagged these videos as baseless conspiracy theories related to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack. Incidentally, YouTube possesses fact-checking tools.

As a result, many false rumours are being spread about claims that fire was triggered by radical Islamic terrorist who may have used the renovation work as an entry point.

Assessment

Our assessment is that while regulating social media companies to curb fake news, the AI and algorithmic tools must also come under scrutiny. We feel that even with the advancement of modern technology, global fact-checking tools suffer from critical inadequacies. We believe that a highly influential platform such as YouTube has to prioritise the classification of user-generated data based on the content and keywords.