On the 11th of March, the World Health Organization has designated the spread of the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) a global pandemic. Following in the wake of this announcement was another epidemic – that of misleading information, also known as “infodemic.” This combination of real and false information causes widespread panic and confusion among the population and prevents legitimate advice from reaching a wider audience.
During this time of crisis, societies are particularly vulnerable to such misinformation. False reports about the virus-inflicted COVID-19 disease are often repeated on social media and even by reputable news outlets. The lives of millions of people and further existence of an untold number of businesses often rely on their ability to access verified information from reliable news sources.
This is why the Polish Press Agency (PAP) and the GovTech Polska Programme – a cross-ministerial task force operating in the Prime Minister’s Office – have launched the #FakeHunter project – a community-based system for verification of online resources. The goal of the system is to create a quick, user-friendly and error-free way of denouncing false claims surrounding SARS-CoV-2. The tool relies on a web application, through which all internet-users can submit a passage they wish to verify. This input is then redirected to community leaders and expert misinformation fighters who ensure the user receives feedback within 24 hours. The verdict, alongside the expert commentary and relevant sources, is then automatically published on the project’s website (fakehunter.pap.pl) and its social media accounts for everyone to see.
Following a dedicated recruitment campaign, over 300 volunteers have joined the ranks of the FakeHunters. Most have already been trained on how to quickly assess the validity of online claims and use the system correctly. Together with the PAP team of experts, they will now begin to verify the user-supplied information related to the coronavirus. The system is entirely open – we think of it as a first step in the project’s development. – Wojciech Surmacz, President of the Board of PAP.
According to the press statement, #FakeHunter is a bold step in the struggle against disinformation. The project’s aim is to fight against a common enemy at the time of this infodemic. We invite all journalists, Internet-users and misinformation-haters to combat this common threat together – Justyna Orłowska, Prime Minister’s High Representative for Government Technology.
The plugin can be downloaded and installed from the project’s landing page – https://fakehunter.pap.pl/ and its code will be made open-source in the future. The project’s partners include Demagog.pl, DO OK, Objectivity and Amazon Web Services.
The Polish Press Agency is Poland’s largest news agency. It gathers, processes and releases objective news as seen from many perspectives from Poland and abroad. Two hundred fifty journalists and 40 photojournalists work 24 hours a day seven days a week to populate the Agency’s portals with information later used by media outlets, government institutions, businesses and individuals.
The GovTech Polska Programme is a multidepartmental task force operating in the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland and reporting to the Prime Minister. The Programme is responsible for coordinating strategic cross-ministerial projects that pertain to innovation, emerging technologies and digitization. Its goal is to foster the development of the modern State together with outside innovators – entrepreneurs, start-ups, the scientific community and the citizens themselves. The Programme gathers around it a community of innovators dedicated to jointly contribute to the cause of building a modern, fully digital Poland.
Source: Polish Press Agency (PAP)