Second virus wave accompanied by wave of disinformation - PAP chief

"As in the case of the pandemic, so in the case of the infodemic, we are now seeing a second wave," Surmacz said. Adam Warżawa/PAP

The media should forget their differences and work out a joint project to enable an effective fight against the informational chaos surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Polish Press Agency (PAP) President Wojciech Surmacz has told the Rzeczpospolita daily.

The PAP head told the daily that the World Health Organization (WHO) had termed the disinformation around the pandemic as an 'infodemic.'

"The infodemic does more harm than the COVID-19 pandemic itself," Surmacz said. "That infodemic causes economic crises the world over, including in Poland."

"As in the case of the pandemic, so in the case of the infodemic, we are now seeing a second wave," Surmacz continued. "The first example is a fragment of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's speech taken out of context - 'who dies, dies and tough,' which is beating popularity records online. It's terrifying that people manage to distribute untrue information so irresponsibly."

The PAP president went on to say that people willingly believe that masks do nothing because "they are simply uncomfortable."

"That's why if someone hears a dozen times a day that there's no need to wear masks, they will not wear them. They are confirmed in this belief by 'journalists' who often for political reasons and with full premeditation question the recommendations of the Ministry of Health, WHO guidelines or reports by 'The Lancet' magazine," Surmacz said.

The Polish Press Agency (PAP) has activated a new #FakeHunter application to enable mobile device users to report potential fake news stories about the coronavirus epidemic.

The Android- and iOS-compatible solution, available via the App Store and Google Play, is part of the agency's 2019-launched #FakeHunter project designed to track down online disinformation.