Winners of the #FakeHunter Challenge announced

The #FakeHunter Challenge competition to find and verify fake news on the web was organised by the Polish Press Agency (PAP) and GovTech. Pictured: Justyna Orłowska head of the GovTech and Wojciech Surmacz President of Polish Press Agency. Marcin Kmieciński/PAP

The winners of the #FakeHunter Challenge competition to find and verify fake news on the web, organised by the Polish Press Agency (PAP) and GovTech, were announced on Friday night.

Over 2,000 applications were submitted to the competition that took place on the weekend of November 13-15 in Warsaw.

The first prize and PLN 15,000 was won by Aleksander Kogut, second place was taken by Monika Lada (PLN 10,000) and third (5,000) by Przemyslaw Fajerski.

The participants competed in four categories: Fake news hunt; Fact checking challenge; Improve FakeHunter and Find the real source of fake news. Points could be scored for reporting false information, preparing a source-based analysis and indicating the source of false information.

The competition was open to all Internet users who speak Polish or English, regardless of age. Over 100 people were selected to join the competition. The largest number of entries took part in the "Fake news hunt" category, where the materials were submitted for verification by the jury.

The #FakeHunter Challenge was one of the key events of the GovTech Festival held in November.

The competition was organised by PAP and GovTech, a Polish government agency responsible for introducing new technologies in the public sector. The two institutions jointly launched the fact checking website https://fakehunter.pap.pl/.

The portal has been operating since mid-April, when a special browser plug-in was made available to network users, allowing them to report potentially false information. Submitted content is verified by PAP experts, and their reports are published in a special news service at fakehunter.pap.pl. Over 1,000 submission have been verified since spring, 600 of which turned out to be fake news.

In July, PAP offered a new #FakeHunter Chatbot service, accessible via Facebook Messenger, which is an AI-based instrument that allows the automatic verification of the accuracy of information.

The development of these tools is a natural response to the phenomenon of the overflow of false information regarding the coronavirus pandemic. In early March, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the COVID-19 crisis had been accompanied by a huge "infodemic," or global deluge of information. Over the following months, the phenomenon kept growing stronger.

"We decided that this should be counteracted," said Wojciech Surmacz, President of the Management Board of PAP.

In mid-October, the Polish Press Agency (PAP) activated a new #FakeHunter application. The Android- and iOS-compatible solution, available via the App Store and Google Play, enabling mobile device users to track down and report dangerous or false claims about COVID-19 on the internet.

Initially, #FakeHunter focused on news related to the coronavirus pandemic. In early July, the Finance, Science and Health tabs were added to the website, in the verified information section.