The Conservatives have been accused of misleading the public after they rebranded their official Twitter account as “factcheckUK” during the televised leaders’ debate and used it to publish anti-Labour posts.
The public have increasingly turned to factchecking websites, such as the independent Full Fact, the BBC’s Reality Check, Channel 4 News’ FactCheck and the Guardian’s Factcheck, to verify claims made by politicians.
During Tuesday night’s debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, the Conservative party renamed their main media account as “factcheckUK”, changed its logo to hide its political origins, and used it to push pro-Conservative material to the public.
Although the Twitter handle remained as @CCHQPress, all other branding was changed to resemble an independent factchecking outlet, meaning it may not have been immediately apparent to an individual who saw the account’s tweets in their feed that it was a product of Conservative party HQ.
On clicking through, they would have seen a disclaimer that factcheckUK was “fact checking Labour from CCHQ”, ” the acronym for Conservative campaign headquarters.
Shortly after the debate finished the Twitter account name was changed from factcheckUK to CCHQ Press.
Full Fact, which is run by a charity, said it had complained to Twitter and said the account should not be allowed to be used in this way while verified. “It is inappropriate and misleading for the Conservative press office to rename their Twitter account ‘factcheckUK’ during this debate. Please do not mistake it for an independent fact checking service.”
Twitter said in a statement to CNN that it had rules in place to prohibit misleading behaviour.
“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,” it said.