PAP's FakeHunter service wins ITU award

PAP CEO Wojciech Surmacz and Justyna Orlowska, from GovTech. Andrzej Lange/PAP

PAP's news verification service, FakeHunter, has won an award from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in Geneva.

The Polish Press Agency's project was named one of the world's top five in the Media category and awarded the 2022 Champion Project title in the competition organised by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

PAP CEO Wojciech Surmacz said at the Wednesday's award ceremony in Geneva that he was very pleased with the award.

"In recent months, we have done a lot of work to adapt our service to the challenge posed by the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the war that is also taking place in the information space," he said.

The Polish Press Agency's FakeHunter service was launched, in partnership with the government's GovTech Programme, in the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. It was a response to a deluge of misinformation about the virus on websites and particularly on social media. It later diversified to cover finance, telecoms, vaccinations, international politics and the energy sector. Fact-checking reports are created by PAP journalists using verified sources, expert opinion and input from institutions responsible for the sectors covered.

In March 2022, the service was extended with a new category - geopolitics. At the time of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, which was accompanied by an information war, this became a subject of particular interest for fact-checkers so the current focus of the service is on Russia's war on Ukraine and Russian disinformation.

Justyna Orlowska, from GovTech, said at the award ceremony that "the fight against disinformation in the face of the brutal Russian aggression against Ukraine and the attack on the freedom of the entire democratic world, is our raison d'etre."

The World Summit on the Information Society is the world's largest event aimed at the development of the ICT industry. Of 966 projects submitted to the WSIS competition, 360 were approved for online voting. Internet users cast over 1.3 million votes, choosing the 20 best projects that were presented to the group of ITU experts. They selected 5 finalists.