Digital Media Literacy: Poland

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Misinformation / DML Prevalence: Poland

Examples of high profile misinformation cases include events where Polish citizens were purposely manipulated due to blind trust in social media outlets, individuals, and other "reputable" news sources in order to sway political elections and opinion. These news sources used language and ideas that related to people in Poland during a time when political tensions are increasingly high. Full details of five misinformation related events may be found on the attached spreadsheet.

Misinformation Events in Poland

  • According to the New York Times, a fake photo spread by far-right extremists sparked outrage amongst Polish citizens as well as EU officials causing them to doubt the fairness of upcoming political elections.
  • Polish citizens most vulnerable to Kremlin propaganda are those who are older in age, Russian-speaking, or far-right activists due to their distrust of western politics. They may not fall victim to direct Kremlin propaganda, but more notably indirect. In these groups tension emerges from their vulnerabilities, making Polish political authorities easily able to manipulate them.
  • According to Prism Ua, 51% of Poles trust social media as a reliable source for news. This allows fake news to travel more quickly amongst people. Facebook may be a possible powerhouse for manipulation and misinformation.
  • The Independent Political Journal is a political news source which fabricates stories about American soldiers in Poland. The journal's political channels are pushed through to publishers, there are four known online sites, that knowingly spread false information while posing as patriotic news sites. Distributing the misinformation this way allows the information to not be classified as state propaganda.
  • Facebook accounts that feature false news are elaborately constructed to appear authenticate. These accounts have friends, posts, photos, etc. that distribute fake news among their online "friends" and to politicians. This can be seen in the Adam Kamiński fake Facebook page, who actually befriended the Deputy Minister of National Defense.
  • OKO.press is an initiative put forth in authenticating political statements from politicians. It is open free the Polish public and has about 2,000 monthly visitors.
  • Heading the European parliamentary elections, 27 Facebook pages in Poland, totaling 2,000,000 followers, were closed down for spreading fake news.
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DML Government Actions: Poland

There are few instances of Poland's government taking action to respond to disinformation. Moreover, EU leaders have struggled to find a way to address violations to the rule of law for several years. Instances of Poland's government's actions regarding disinformation, insights regarding the lack of government action, and instances of government action for digital media literacy, referred to as media and information literacy (MIL) in Poland, are provided below and in the attached spreadsheet.

Poland Bans Foreigners In Disinformation Campaign

  • "A spokesperson for the Polish Internal Security Agency (ABW) stated that, along with the two detained persons, three other foreign citizens were handed 5-year bans on entering Poland, being accused of engaging in non-military influence operations aimed at furthering foreign interests. The ABW claimed to have ‘successfully neutralized’ two networks involved in promoting Russian interpretations of history with the aim to sow discord between Poles and Ukrainians in South-Eastern Poland. The investigation also targeted Polish citizens who had allegedly received funds and direct instructions from ‘Russian institutions closely linked to the […] authorities of the Russian Federation’."

2016 Executive Branch Empowered to Block Websites Without A Court Order

  • Granting open-ended powers to intelligence agencies to counter terrorism at the cost of every citizen’s privacy and freedom marks a clear abuse of power by the government”.
  • "The law contains vague provisions extending the right of intelligence agencies to shut down telecommunications networks, block websites deemed to threaten national security, and conduct surveillance of foreign citizens for up to three months—all without prior court approval. The law also widens the definition of terrorist activity and extends the period suspects can be held without charge to 14 days. On January 31, the parliament approved a measure governing surveillance power, allowing for greater access to Polish citizens' electronic data without a court approval."

Digital School

  • Created and funded by the Prime Minister's Office in 2014.
  • "Their digital school program, the largest government-sponsored open education program in Polish history, has created a full set of educational materials for grades 4-6 licensed under cc-by license (the fully free creative commons license)."
  • "One of the most ambitious features was the creation of a national repository of training materials. Teachers in all of the test schools will have access to this nationwide database."

ECDL POLAND SIGNS AGREEMENTS TO CERTIFY DIGITAL SKILLS OF OVER 2,500 PEOPLE

  • "In Lower Silesia, the ‘No b@rriers, no limits’ project will provide ICT and linguistic training for 502 workers using 5 ICDL modules. Another initiative, in Mazovia, will see 380 people take 6 modules each under the ‘Competent Mazovians’ project. Finally, 1,800 people will also be able to follow 6 modules under the ‘Digital and linguistic competences school’ project."

Anna Fotyga as Rapporteur for the Report on EU Strategic Communication

  • Fotyga was from the Law and Justice Party, a Polish MEP, as well as a former minister of foreign affairs participated in the report on EU strategic communication to counter disinformation.
  • "Anna Fotyga from the Law and Justice Party, a Polish MEP and a former minister of foreign affairs, was a rapporteur for the Report on EU strategic communication to counteract propaganda against it by third parties in October 2016, but otherwise Poland is not very active in the projects aimed at countering disinformation on the EU level."

General Insights


Strategy

Our research began by searching for information regarding government initiatives and campaigns against disinformation and media and information literacy. This search revealed there are four main media literacy networks in Poland and each operate at a national level. These networks were given to be Coalition of Media and Digital Education, Coalition for Open Education, Coalition for the Digital inclusion of the 50+ Generation, and The Polish Safer Internet Centre (PSIC). This same resource provided the top 25 most significant media literacy projects since 2010. We searched the four main media literacy networks resources such as their websites and publications for information regarding government actions and disinformation. Additionally, we searched the top 25 projects to see if any were the result of a government action or decision made since 2014.

Next, we searched for government initiatives and actions in the education sector as most initiatives regarding MIL target students, however, schools in Poland operate with a high level of autonomy at the local level. We tried to identify local government actions in regard to disinformation and media and information related to education that were reported in news sources such as SPi News and the Independent. This search revealed that the nation's public broadcaster was controlled by the government and produces content that is viewed by many to be disinformation and propaganda, and Poland is not an active participant in countering disinformation.

The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture were identified as key players in activities regarding media and information literacy, so we attempted to identify publications and articles that announced actions and decisions of these players in connection with disinformation, MIL, and tech platforms. Also, we expanded the search to include specific tech platforms such as Facebook since a hub was built there. We furthered the search to include attempts to reach vulnerable groups, but this did not yield any more results.

The book Public Policies in Media and Information Literacy in Europe published in 2017 provided initiatives that we also examined to identify those that were the result of government action and initiated after 2014.

We provided any actions that were revealed by the research above. The lack of government action against disinformation is likely due to the systematic issues that exist in the country's media environment that is increasing the polarization of the public and the fact that the government has taken over the public broadcaster and is said to publish misinformation. The book Public Policies in Media and Information Literacy in Europe, published in 2017, provided initiatives that we also examined to identify those that were the result of government action and initiated after 2014.

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DML Players, Part 1: Poland

Some key players in the digital media literacy space in Poland include National Broadcasting Council of Poland, Center for Citizenship Education, National Audiovisual Institute, Ministry of Digital Affairs, and Action Coalition for Media Education. Details about these players are contained in the completed spreadsheet.

National Broadcasting Council of Poland

Center for Citizenship Education

National Audiovisual Institute

Ministry of Digital Affairs

Action Coalition for Media Education


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DML Players, Part 2: Poland

Details regarding five additional key players in the digital media literacy space in Poland, including Digital Poland, EPALE (Electronic platform for adult learning in Europe), City in Internet Association, FINA, and Modern Poland Foundation have been compiled in the "3 — DML Players" tab of the attached spreadsheet.

DML players in Poland

  • The Digital Poland Foundation is an NGTO that "turns digital challenges into opportunities for the Polish economy", specifically when it comes to digital innovation.
  • EPALE, or European platform for adult learning in Europe, is an EU educational platform operating as a multilingual, open membership community of educators, trainers, researchers, academics, and policymakers.
  • The CITY IN INTERNECIE Association (SMWI) is an "expert non-governmental organization that has been active since 1998 for the development of digital self-government and to support the development of digital competence."
  • FINA, the National Film Archive Audiovisual Institute is an organization focused on digitization and promotion of Polish audiovisual heritage, specifically when it comes to media and film.
  • The Modern Poland Foundation is an organization that is focused on providing information in the public domain, creating tools for access to free cultural goods, building media education programs and fighting for the right to participate in culture.
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DML Initiatives, Part 1: Poland

Three initiatives around digital media in Poland are a revamp of the K-12 curriculum, the Information Society Development Foundation which funds DML projects, and E-Strong: Digital Skills, Real Benefits, which offers DML for disabled people. Full information along with the requested verbatim summaries are included in the attached spreadsheet.

Core Curriculum 2018/2019 (Podstawa programowa 2018/2019)

  • As opposed to many other DML initiatives in other countries, Poland is moving away from integrating DML into all subjects and moving toward replacement of the idea of subject integration by subject correlation (within humanities and science subjects). It is unclear if DML fits into those categories.
  • As an example, instead of integrating DML skills into regular subjects (in History class students would use DML to research) they will correlate it (in computer class they will use History examples). The most likely reason is the history teacher isn't computer-literate and doesn't want to be.
  • "The concept of education adopted in the document, expressed in particular in the school's tasks and learning objectives — general requirements, reflects the key objectives and assumptions of the education reform, including developing entrepreneurship and creativity among students, as well as developing skills in the efficient use of information and communication technologies not only in the education process but also in everyday life, which will be supported by a broader inclusion in the curriculum of all subjects of information and communication technologies and the introduction of universal programming science."
  • There are no statistics about the number of teachers using the curriculum. However, because it is mandatory, all teachers should be using it unless there are extenuating circumstances. In 2017 there were 184,893 primary school teachers and 98,217 secondary school teachers.
  • DML is not separated from the ICT (Information Computer Technology)
  • "On January 30, 2018, the Minister of National Education Anna Zalewska signed a regulation on the new core curriculum for general education for a four-year general high school, a five-year technical secondary school, and a two-year secondary school."
  • "Practically all primary schools in Poland have access to the Internet and enable teachers and pupils to use it. Thus, schools are required by law to install special Internet safety software in computers used for teaching and learning purposes. The software should protect pupils, in particular, against pornography, brutal and aggressive contents, and contents breaking social norms and promoting hatred and discrimination."

Information Society Development Foundation

QUALITY

"We operate comprehensively and in the long term."
"We are introducing lasting and real changes in local communities."
"We diligently examine the impact of actions taken and reflect on how they are implemented."
"We specify goals and look for the best ways to achieve them.
"We are not afraid to experiment with different solutions."

INNOVATION

"We're continually looking for new ways of doing things."
"We analyze national, global needs, challenges, and trends."
"We try to propose new ways of solving the problems of local communities."
"We believe that the basis of innovation is mutual trust and willingness to cooperate."

PARTNERSHIP

"We work with the non-governmental sector, business, and public administration."
"We create opportunities to combine different environments and exchange experiences."
"We care for synergy."
"We share our knowledge and experience in national and international cooperation networks."
  • Some programs include "Click, Check, Understand" which was piloted in 10 libraries.
  • Another program is "New Technologies Locally." The program aims to increase knowledge and skills by representatives of local organizations for the use of DML and new technologies. It has served 800 people in 10 cities.
  • "The foundation was created in 2008 by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation (PAFF) based in the USA — one of the largest grant organizations operating in Poland, with capital of over USD 250 million. The first task of FRSI was the implementation of the nationwide Library Development Program — a joint undertaking of the PAFF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the "Global Libraries" international initiative. Thanks to this, they acquired unique work experience in thousands of local communities throughout Poland, in the area of social change, using new technologies. They built on this experience the further development of the organization in accordance with their values, which are quality, innovation, and partnership."
  • From that beginning, the foundation moved into supporting DML in 2016.
  • A review of the history of the organization and the initiatives it is currently funding in DML show few pitfalls. The initiatives are based on successful DML work from the EU and other countries.
  • "Information Society Development Foundation has extensive experience in the implementation of nationwide projects regarding the role of technology in local development. The foundation also funds other DML initiatives, including the initiative in row 8. "

E-Strong: Digital Skills, Real Benefits

  • Formed in December 2016, this program is a cross-sector collaboration to serve multiple audiences from different offerings, including deaf, blind, and visually impaired, trainers, and the general public.
  • "The goal of the "e-Mocni" project is to increase Internet (DML) literacy throughout Poland."
  • "We train people who have not yet used the opportunities offered by new technologies. We offer stationary and online training as well as webinars. Thanks to this, they have the chance to learn how to use technology daily and how to use them in taking care of their health, finance or education, professional development, and even spiritual life, relationships with loved ones or hobbies."
  • The program has developed 160 Local trainers in 126 Municipalities for 14,000 Residents. It is funded by multiple non-profits and provides DML training for disabled people.
  • The program appears to be well-funded, and the educators are trained by the project to work with disabled students and software.
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DML Initiatives, Part 2: Poland

Two more major initiatives in Poland around digital media are Lesson: Enter, a training program for teachers in DML and MedJa. School of Critical Thinking, a program designed by journalists to teach critical thinking and reception of media messages. Full information along with the requested verbatim summaries are included in the attached spreadsheet.

Lesson: Enter

  • This program is a cross-sector collaboration program begun in 2019 and designed to run until 2023.
  • Over the next four years, teachers will be trained to help them use existing online resources better in their daily work
  • Plans are to train 75,000 teachers in DML in that time frame.
  • zł 40 million (Polish zloty) are allocated to approximately 100 grants for conducting teacher training.
  • This initiative has a unique train the trainer model. The first stage of the project includes "grant competitions for conducting and organizing training for teachers and in-depth training for regional trainers." Once the regional trainers are prepared, these regional staff will train individual trainers in each region.
  • These trainers will then spread through the schools, showing classroom teachers how to incorporate DML in their classes.
  • There is a clear plan for evaluation, feedback, and sustainability of the teacher's skills.
  • This diffuse method of training has a risk of the content and skills getting diluted the further down the hierarchy the trainers go. Like a copy of a copy of a copy, it has the potential to become faded.
  • This project is too new to evaluate success.

MedJa. School of Critical Thinking

  • This program began in October 2019 and is offered through the Center for Citizenship Education (CEO), an NGO that provides resources for civil professionals in teaching critical thinking and media use.
  • "In media education programs, we develop skills for critical thinking and reception of media messages. We care for ethical journalism; we follow examples of media propaganda and analyze them to approach advertising, press, television, and social media more consciously."
  • There are two programs: Mind over Media and Turn Over. So far, they have 38 different resources for teachers.
  • An announcement of the winners of a student blog had over 22,000 hits
  • "The idea of the program is to establish partnerships between schools and local media agencies to co-create ethical media and strengthen the competence of critical thinking. "
  • "The constant fight against fake news, conspiracy theories, and media coverage is a widely discussed topic in the Western world. However, the global problem of disinformation can be solved locally and managed at the level of small communities in various European countries. In the program 'MedJa. School of critical thinking,' we emphasize those aspects of journalistic work that relate to civic education and co-creating local communities by providing valuable information."
  • Our educational materials are based on the experience of the European edition of the "Mind over media." educational program created by Professor Renee Hobbs and the Polish curriculum developed as part of the national version of the program."
  • The journalists that are part of this program have a vested interest in it being successful, both for their professional reputations, but also to ensure readers as their articles move from paper to digital media.

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The Future of DML, Part 1: Poland

Opinion pieces and online commentary around the future of digital media literacy in Poland include a commentary regarding a national policies program by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), an academic review by researchers published in The International Encyclopedia of Media Literacy, an opinion pieces published by prominent journalists and government advisors working for Centrum Cyfrowe, research by government advisors, a commentary published during the Polish Society for Media Education event by different journalists and policy folk. The details on opinion pieces and online commentary have been compiled in the "5 — DML opinion / commentary" tab of the attached spreadsheet.

The future of DML in Poland

Opinion pieces and online commentary around the future of digital media literacy in Poland include:
  • Media literacy and safe use of new media, a commentary regarding a national policies program by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA)
  • Media literacy in Poland, an academic review by researchers published in The International Encyclopedia of Media Literacy
  • Strategy and action analysis aimed at development of digital competences in EU countries, an opinion pieces published by prominent journalists and government advisors working for Centrum Cyfrowe
  • Competences of the future in times of digital disruption: Study of challenges for Poland in the perspective of 2030, research by government advisors
  • Media education in the digital world: New technologies, solidarity and pluralistic society, a commentary published during the Polish Society for Media Education event by different journalists and policy folk
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The Future of DML, Part 2: Poland

Additional opinion pieces and online commentary around the future of digital media literacy in Poland include a joint report by the University of Oxford and Reuters Institute, an opinion piece published in the Education and Information Technologies magazine, an opinion piece published online by the Coallition of Information and Media Users in South East Europe, commentary on Southeastern media policy published by the EU Panel for the future of science and technology, and commentary by a professor at the University of Rhode Island. Details on opinion pieces and online commentary have been compiled in the "5 — DML opinion / commentary" tab of the attached spreadsheet. 

The future of DML in Poland

Opinion pieces and online commentary around the future of digital media literacy in Poland include:
  • What can be done? Digital Media Policy Options for Europe (and beyond), a joint report by the University of Oxford and Reuters Institute
  • Skills in the area of digital safety as a key component of digital literacy among teachers in Poland, an opinion piece published in the Education and Information Technologies magazine
  • Fact-checking Polish style, an opinion piece published online by the Coallition of Information and Media Users in South East Europe
  • Polarization and the use of technology in political campaigns and communication, commentary on Southeastern media policy published by the EU Panel for the future of science and technology
  • Children, Adolescents, and Media Division, commentary by a professor at the University of Rhode Island
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • ""But the photo was a fake. Spread widely online by far-right extremists, it combined the head of Mr. Soros with the body of Al Gore, the former vice president of the United States. It was just one example of how much the state media has been turned into the mouthpiece of Poland’s government, raising concerns about how fair the country’s elections on Sunday can be and eliciting objections from European Union officials worried about media freedom.""
Quotes
  • "One group seems to be vulnerable to direct Kremlin propaganda and consists primarily of older people nostalgic about the pre-1989 period when Poland was a satellite country of the Soviet Union."
  • "The scholars revealed that the following indicators are at high risk of violation in Poland: (a) media ownership concentration; (b) cross-media concentration of ownership and competition enforcement; (c) commercial and owner influence over editorial content; (d) political control of media outlets; (e) independence of public state media governance and funding; and (i) access to media for women. "
  • "Poland is only at the beginning of the road in the process of developing initiatives that will be primary focused on fact-checking. Arguably, the most recognizable one is OKO.press, an internet portal gathering journalists whose job is mostly to verify the statements made by politicians and other public figures."
Quotes
  • "An example is the Niezależny Dziennik Polityczny (Independent Political Journal, NDP), which regularly fabricates information about American soldiers stationed in Poland. These media channels are buffered by another layer of publishers — sites that knowingly spread given narratives, despite the knowledge of their origin and goals, which allow the narratives to be disseminated into society. These sites include Kresy.pl, Wolna-Polska.pl, WirtualnaPolonia.com, Obserwator Polityczny (official partner of the Russkiy Mir Foundation in Poland) and others. They focus primarily on fomenting hatred towards Ukrainians and Americans, posing as good, “patriotic” sources of information...They constitute the key links in the distribution chain of malicious content as they make it possible to avoid being classified as state propaganda of the Kremlin at the initial stage of its dissemination."
Quotes
  • "The articles show, for example, that the Latvian authorities are pursuing an apartheid policy towards the Russian-speaking and Polish-speaking national minorities. However, "American presence in that region is unnecessary and harmful, because it does not change the strategic situation, but only exposes NATO to an accelerated confrontation."
Quotes
  • "Facebook has closed 27 pages in Poland for spreading fake news and hate-filled content ahead of the European parliamentary elections, the civil rights group Avaaz said on Friday. The pages, which had a total of close to two million followers, were reported for containing "anti-Semitic, anti-Islam, anti-migrant, anti-LGBT and anti-feminist" content, Avaaz said in a statement. "We have closed a number of counterfeit and duplicate accounts that infringed on our rules of authenticity, as well as a number of pages for changing names and other violations," a spokesman for Facebook Poland told AFP, without specifying further."