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KAMIL BASAJ

How would you describe the mission and expertise of your organization in the field of media literacy/ critical thinking/ fact checking/ countering disinformation? The mission of the foundation and accompanying projects is to support the development of the ability to recognize information and psychological operations, including activities in the field of analysis of the processes of manipulating the Polish-speaking information environment: disinformation, propaganda, social engineering, and cyber activities. The project is actively researching the phenomena of manipulation of the information environment, including the cognitive domain: recognition and analysis of the Polish information space; recognition and analysis of information operations, including psychological operations; publicist activity; conducting communication activities in cyberspace.   What are the main resources developed by your organization you’d be willing to share? (e.g. reports, analyses, scripts, educational materials, video clips, webinars… Please share the links.) All publicity materials and reports of the foundation are available on its website: http://infoops.pl/publikacje/. They are all at your disposal. We would also like to share the communication of the Disinfo Digest project, which contains current information about the identified threats: https://twitter.com/Disinfo_Digest.   Which are, in your opinion, the three biggest current challenges related to countering disinformation in your country? In my opinion, the greatest threat to the security of the Polish-speaking information environment is the complex manipulative operations carried out by the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China. They are often different, but both these actors’ actions systematically disrupt the security of the information environment. Among the most important vectors of action, I would include: presenting a negative image of the foreign policy of the United States and NATO countries; creating a positive impression of the expected relations between Poland and the Russian Federation; depreciation of Poland’s defensive capabilities; shaping a negative impression of Ukraine in the context of relations with Poland; shaping a negative image of the European Union; shaping a negative image of actions taken by the European Union countries in relations with the Russian Federation; disavowing Polish statehood; shaping a negative impression of Poland; building a negative image of Poland’s history; manipulating the area of information related to Poland’s energy sector and gas supply diversification projects; masking and disinformation about the threats generated by China; manipulative operations against the health of society in the context of COVID-19 threats; complex information, diffusion, and manipulative operations aimed at interfering with democratic processes in Poland. Could you name three solutions that you implemented or else want to recommend as an advice how to counter disinformation, strengthen societies’ critical thinking skills and build civil resilience to disinformation? The most important tasks that can strengthen social resilience to manipulative operations are increasing knowledge of threats resulting from disinformation, developing and propagating materials that decompose false information, warning and disseminating knowledge about current risks, and promoting information based on facts (also in the form of active, professional communication). What are the top three events or dates you have witnessed this year that have caused an intensification of disinformation activities? The year 2020 is another year of increased manipulative activity in the Polish-speaking information environment. The period of the increase in action depends on the current situational context of events in the world, but also has some fixed elements, such as anniversaries of historical events: the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the outbreak of World War II, the attack of the USSR on Poland on September 17, 1939, or other dates important from the historical perspective. The increased activities of Russian propaganda include a disinformation campaign aimed against strengthening the eastern flank of NATO, manipulative actions accompanying the conclusion of the agreement on increased defense cooperation between Poland and the USA, disinformation activities masking the real picture of the Nord Stream II project, or point information hits on Poland’s relations with the allied countries, including cyberattacks on websites, the publication of false information, interviews or sending false statements impersonating decision-makers to the allied nations. In your opinion, which future three dates/events are likely to bring about the intensification of disinformation activities in 2020-2021? The aim of the Russian Federation’s propaganda attacks are events referring to the historical context like September 1, 1939, the circumstances of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, or the Sovoet invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939. Other dates are mainly connected with the strengthening of Poland’s defensive potential – consequently, manipulative operations will be more intense during events associated with this task, such as decisions, agreements, as well as NATO exercises increasing the security of Poland and its allies. What are the prevailing disinformation narratives you have observed in the media space this year. The most important vectors of activity here I have already mentioned in my answers to a question regarding the greatest threats to the security of the Polish-speaking information environment.   Have you been relying on any fact-checking tools? If yes, please describe them or share the links. Every day in our “Disinfo Digest” we publish project messages about disinformation activities that we identify. Current information can be found daily under following link: https://twitter.com/Disinfo_Digest. Fell free to follow all the entries. It is also worth to read the summaries of selected manipulation operation. Would you like to highlight any of the disinformation cases you have witnessed/ discovered/ debunked? Russia’s purposely distorting the narration of history, especially with regard to Poland, the Cold War, and the events during World War II, are cases of disinformation we are constantly fighting against. They are available on our website and that of our quarterly, the Warsaw Institute Review. In your opinion, who are the best performing actors – in your country, as well as in the EU – playing crucial roles in the field of media literacy today and why? At the moment, I don’t see any professional project that has sufficient potential for media education.   KAMIL BASAJ
Founder and President of the Board
of INFO OPS Poland Foundation
Disciplined, ordered, task-oriented
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