Rebrand of Tory Twitter account was 'an attempt to mislead voters'

19 November 2019, 21:57 | Updated: 20 November 2019, 16:01

The Tories changed the branding on one of their official Twitter accounts
The Tories changed the branding on one of their official Twitter accounts. Picture: Twitter

By Asher McShane

An attempt made by the Conservative Party press office to rebrand its Twitter account as a fact-checking service was "an attempt to mislead voters", a charity has said.

The Tories have faced criticism and calls for an investigation after the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) press office account was renamed "factcheckUK" during Tuesday evening's general election debate on ITV.

The account then offered commentary on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's statements and retweeted messages of support for Boris Johnson.

The chief executive of independent fact-checking charity Full Fact, Will Moy, slammed the move and said Twitter "could have acted sooner" after the Tories renamed their account.

Mr Moy told the BBC: "It was an attempt to mislead voters and I think it is inappropriate and misleading for a serious political party to behave that way.

"And it's surprising as well. Why would a self-respecting political party choose to impersonate something else to put its campaign messages out there?"

His organisation also asked voters not to mistake the account for an actual independent fact-checking service.

The move also attracted criticism from a number of opposition politicians.

Labour candidate David Lammy wrote online: "The Conservative Party press office rebranding themselves as "FactCheckUK" shows what disdain this party and this government has for the truth.

"The Electoral Commission must investigate and punish this blatant attempt to deceive the public."

The @CCHQpress account is verified by Twitter, displaying a blue tick which is intended to denote that a user is genuine.

The Liberal Democrat press office posted an image suggesting they were reporting the account to Twitter for "pretending to be me or someone else".

They tweeted: "And people wonder why trust in politics has been eroded @CCHQPress"

Labour's David Lammy tweeted: "The Conservative Party press office @CCHQPress rebranding themselves as 'FactCheckUK' shows what disdain this party and this government has for the truth."

"The Electoral Commission must investigate and punish this blatant attempt to deceive the public."

Meanwhile, some other Twitter users also changed their display names to factcheckUK and posted critical comments about Mr Johnson.

Others changed their display name CCHQ Press Office, while Tony Blair's former spokesperson Alastair Campbell changed his display name to Boris Johnson and tweeted: "I won't get Brexit done #FactCheck"

The Twitter display name was changed back to CCHQ Press shortly after the debate ended. The Conservative Party has been contacted for comment.

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