NEWS20 November 2019

Conservatives accused of misleading public using Twitter

Election 2019 News Public Sector UK

UK – Fact-checking organisation Full Fact has criticised the Conservative Party for renaming its press office’s Twitter account to ‘factcheckUK’ during last night’s leaders’ debate.

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The account name was temporarily changed from ‘CCHQPress’ to ‘factcheckUK’ and was used to tweet out pro-Conservative messages.

Full Fact’s chief executive Will Moy told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning that the move was "an attempt to mislead voters".

Moy said: "I think it is inappropriate and misleading for a serious political party to behave that way."

Twitter also said the party had misled the public with the move and said it would take "corrective action" if it happened again.

A Twitter spokesperson said in a statement: "Twitter is committed to facilitating healthy debate throughout the UK general election. We have global rules in place that prohibit behaviour that can mislead people, including those with verified accounts. Any further attempts to mislead people by editing verified profile information – in a manner seen during the UK Election Debate – will result in decisive corrective action."

Ben de Pear, the editor of Channel 4 News, which also runs a fact-checking service with a similar name ('FactCheck'), said on Twitter: "No political party should be trying to cloak themselves in the guise of independent journalists."

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, the foreign secretary Dominic Raab defended the move, calling it an "instant rebuttal mechanism".