PAP announces fake news hunting competition

Internet users in Poland will be able to test their fake news hunting skills in a special competition to be held under the auspices of the Polish Press Agency and the government's GovTech Polska new technology programme for the public sector.

The competition, organised as part of PAP's #FakeHunter disinformation detection project and titled #FakeHunter Challenge/Geopolityka, will take place on March 24-27. Its co-sponsors are the Polish education ministry and the Digital Poland Union.

Announcing the competition during a press conference on Wednesday in the education ministry, PAP head Wojciech Surmacz said it would focus "solely and exclusively on the war in Ukraine, on Russia's brutal attack on Ukraine."

Surmacz said the idea for the #FakeHunter tool and mechanism dates back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported a sharp rise in false information about the disease.

"Together with the pandemic, the World Health Organisation announced an infodemic, in other words, an unprecedented... increment on false information concerning a single event, namely the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic," said Surmacz.

He also said that, today, Russia has brought the spread of fake news to the level of a "real disinformation war."

Education Minister Przemysław Czarnek said the event, addressed to school-age youth and students, would concentrate on Russian trolling techniques. He added that the competition also aimed to make young people realise they were not likely to find true information on social media.

"We want to make (young people - PAP) aware that if we are looking for truth, we will not find it in the social media - especially today, with the war in Ukraine which (Russian President Vladimir - PAP) Putin has started," Czarnek said.

Czarnek said about 10,000 Russian trolling accounts have appeared on Polish social media since Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine and stressed that the surest sources of true information for young people were parents and official information channels.

"The truth can be obtained from parents, the truth can be found in Polish Press Agency reports and on government websites," Czarnek said.