The hunt for fake news on mobile devices has started. The #FakeHunter app is now available on the App Store and Google Play.

The hunt for fake news on mobile devices has started. The #FakeHunter app is now available on the App Store and Google Play.

The #FakeHunter application of the Polish Press Agency (PAP) is now available for Android and iOS. Thanks to it, not only computer users, but also mobile device users will be able to report potentially false information.

"The #FakeHunter application is a natural supplement to the tools, previously created by the Polish Press Agency, for finding false information about the coronavirus circulating on the Internet. "Thanks to this application, we will be able to reach 100 percent of network users. Our tools already work on computers and mobile devices," said Wojciech Surmacz, President of the Management Board of PAP.

In mid-April, PAP offered internet users a plug-in for the browsers to allow easy and intuitive reporting of potentially false pieces of news for verification by experts. The fakehunter.pap.pl website has also been launched, where you can read the experts' verdicts regarding the reported news. The expert opinions on the reported information are based on thorough research and both proven and reliable sources.

The project was implemented jointly with GovTech, a Polish government agency responsible for introducing new technologies in the public sector.

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 was growing stronger.

"We decided that this should be counteracted," said the president of the Polish Press Agency.

Surmacz pointed to the key nature of the social element of the #FakeHunter project by saying that internet users decide which information should be verified.

"This is what distinguishes the website launched by the Polish Press Agency from other solutions of this type. Many foreign media, such as the Agence France-Presse (AFP) or British Reuters, currently run services dealing with disinformation, but in those cases it is journalists who decide which news should be verified. User involvement in catching fake news affects the scale of the project - far more publications with potential disinformation are passed through FakeHunter's modes, then onto other fact-checking sites," he said, adding that he would like the whole project to develop in this particular direction. "To engage people to fight fake news. To catch it."

In his opinion, the PAP project "educates and teaches vigilance."

Initially, #FakeHunter focused on news related to the coronavirus pandemic. In early July, the "Finance" tab was added to the website, in the section with verified information, and now PAP is about to launch another Science and Health tab.

All the initiatives undertaken by PAP in cooperation with GovTech and other partners of this social project result from observing how much fake news from various fields results in public disinformation. There are pieces of fake news that require a lot of knowledge, so the agency is working together with groups of experts and researchers from various areas.

"Finance, medicine and telecommunication is another very sensitive area, especially in the 5G area. During the pandemic, we verified the rumour that the state intends to tax (bank - PAP) deposits. Of course, this was not true, but what if, fearing taxation, everyone started withdrawing cash from the bank at the same time? Will COVID-19 vaccinations be safe? One false piece of information is enough to cause the entire system to collapse," Surmacz said.

At the same time, he added, as intended, the PAP and GovTech project should cover all thematic areas, because fake news does not only concern pandemics, finance and medicine.

The next step is to create an English version of the website.