#FakeHunter Challenge winners announced

The winners of the #FakeHunter Challenge competition to find and debunk 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 top prize and handy PLN 15,000 (EUR 3,355) went to Aleksander Kogut, while second place was taken by Monika Lada who went home with PLN 10,000 (EUR 2,237). Third came Przemyslaw Fajerski winning PLN 5,000 (EUR 1,120) .

The digital fake busters were pitted against each other in four categories, i. e.: The Fake News Hunt; the Fact-checking Challenge; Improve FakeHunter and Find the Real Source of Fake News. Reporting false information, preparing a source-based analysis and indicating the source of false information – all these activities provided participants with much-desired points.

Anyone with at least a basic grasp of Internet know-how and command of Polish and English could participate in the competition 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 fact-checking website https://fakehunter.pap.pl/ is tangible fruit of the organisation’s collaboration.

The site 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 submissions have been checked since the 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, Chairperson of the PAP Management Board.

However, Fake Hunters do not limit themselves to pinpointing coronavirus-related fallacies alone, they also keep an eye out for and identify fake news regarding 5G technology and its ostensible connection to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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, Finance, Science and Health tabs were added to the website, in the verified information section.