The election campaign staff of Polish President Andrzej Duda has announced a special unit dedicated to combating disinformation and fake news, which are both significant challenges as the presidential election draws closer.
Krzysztof Sobolewski, the head of PiS’s Executive Committee, explained that the new cell must work 24 hours a day due to the large volume of fake news stories to sift through.
In the last few years, Polish public life has been dealing with an increasing amount of “fake news”. This refers to sensational news meant to create extreme emotions. These news pieces often feature disinformation meant to achieve certain political or financial benefits for a certain group of interested parties.
Although disinformation is often published on social media, the traditional methods of conveying information are also not free from fake news.
A recent example involves celebrities spreading false information, such as Polish actress Krystyna Janda, who told liberal Gazeta Wyborcza how awful her life in Poland is. She claimed there is no justice, logic, or truth in Poland, which she said is becoming a “backwater of the world.”
Sobolewski referred to these imprecise accusations, ironically saying they must be an attack on Warsaw’s liberal Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski, who belongs to Civic Platform (PO), who refused to give Janda funding for her summer screenings in Warsaw.
Although Janda’s comments mostly constituted her opinion, her broad characterization of Poland is supported by few facts, and is the type of information being spread about the country that PiS’s new unit is seeking to counter with its operations.
Sobolewski also spoke of the recent political attacks involving protesters at state ceremonies led by Duda, pointing out that those were state anniversaries and not political rallies. He said that the aggressive behavior towards Duda demonstrated a lack of respect for the Polish presidency.
He emphasized that Civic Platform presidential candidate, Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, later went to congratulate and thank those protesters for their actions.
The MP explained that another example of fake news that PiS’s new unit must fight against is the issue of the coronavirus used by the opposition as a political weapon.
The chief of the Prime Minister’s Chancellery, Michał Dworczyk, added that the unit was created to combat the lies, manipulation and disinformation directed at Duda.
The unit was also formed in response to Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska’s staff hiring Marcin Mycielski, the creator of the well-known anti-government, hater and fake news Facebook profile “Sok z Buraka”, which translates to beetroot juice.
Mycielski is also a Gazeta Wyborcza correspondent and an activist in Lyudmyla Kozlovska’s Open Dialogue Foundation.