Disinformation in Poland: Thematic classification based on content analysis of fake news from 2019



The paper presents a qualitative study of fake news on Polish-language internet media that seeks to arrive at their thematic classification in order to identify areas particularly vulnerable to disinformation in Poland. Fake news examples from 2019 were selected using popular Polish fact-checking sites (N = 192) and subjected to textual analysis and coding procedure to establish the thematic categories and specific topics most often encountered in this type of disinformation, with the following thematic categories identified in the process: political and economic; social; gossip/rumour; extreme; pseudo-scientific; worldview; historical; and commercial. The study culminates in a critical interpretation of results and discussion of the phenomenon in its Polish and international contexts. Among discussed conclusions is the dominance of content related to the government, Catholic Church, and LGBT issues in the Polish context, as well as the longevity of health-based fake news, especially anti-vaccination content, that points to the global impact of fake news and calls for action to prevent its spread.

Content analysis; disinformation; fact-checking; misinformation

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