Notre Dame Cathedral branded social media with one of the first major tests of their prominent programs aimed at fighting real-time misinformation – and critics say they fail.
As recordings of the cathedral burned were uploaded to YouTube by major news providers, anti-misinformation algorithms launched by the video sharing site last year. Unfortunately, the efforts have mistakenly identified the videos as recordings of the 9/1
As a result, several providers found that their videos had been added with a link to an Encyclopaedia Britannica article on the attacks. The function will meet common conspiracy theories on issues such as moon landings and whether the land is flat, and the attack from 2001 at the World Trade Center.
YouTube apologized for the error and said its systems "sometimes make the wrong call". Other aspects performed better: A search for Notre Dame is automatically recognized as a search for a news event that pushes videos from legitimate news agencies to the top of the results.
But it has failed to stop misinformation about the fire from racing in the video sharing site and elsewhere. A video of the flames, with 36,000 views, has been sound-edited to suggest that Islamic observers were crying "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great"). Another zooms in on a figure that apparently carries a high west vest and a hard hat attached to it as a "Muslim in Notre Dame".
These are accompanied by other claims, scattered in comments on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and on "independent" media sites, it was an attempt to suggest the fire was deliberately started. One said it was "suspected" that "officials have said there was no work done and the cathedral was empty"; Another tweet, since deleted, claimed to be from someone who knew a church employee and said they had been told that it was an act of arson.
There were also tweets from accounts claiming to be news business like CNN and Fox News, arguing that the fire was caused by "a terrorist act" and spreading false claims about the reaction of US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
Paris Public Prosecutor, Rémy Heitz, said on Tuesday that "nothing indicates" Notre Dame blaze, who brought the building's spire and roof crash, was started for that purpose. The cathedral had undergone intensive restoration work, which the firefighters said could be linked to the inferno, the investigators said.
In addition to inappropriate lies, misinformation was spread in other ways. A 2016 news story of an apparent plot to blow up the church has been widely spread over the last 24 hours, not mentioning that history is three years old.
The guardian's history on the plot was linked to from the website of the influential Høyrew's news site Drudge Report, sending tens of thousands of readers to a three-year history. The author's version of the story contains a clear disclaimer that the news is "more than two years old". Many publishers do not include such disclaimers, and some outlets even tell the story of the fire.
Although they do not cross the wrong information, the key figures to the right have used the fire to further stoke anti-Muslim fears. In a tweet, Alice Weidel, the long-standing parliamentary group leader, included Alternative to Germany, the country's largest opposition party, a connection between the fire and the former anti-Christian "attacks" in France.
"Under quiet week Notre Dame burns. March: second largest church Saint-Sulpice burns. February: 47 attacks in France," Weidel wrote.
"The Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe speaks of a significant increase," she added, including a link to a March article in a German-Catholic magazine entitled "Catholic Churches Desecrated over France".