20 November 2019 18:37
Twitter has accused the Conservatives of misleading the public after they rebranded one of their official party accounts to make it look like a factchecking service during the ITV leaders' debate. The party was widely criticised on Tuesday night when it temporarily changed the name of its Conservative campaign headquarters press office Twitter account, which is followed by nearly 76,000 users, to factcheckUK from its usual CCHQPress. Show Hide During the ITV live leaders debate on 19 November, the Conservative party re-branded their press office account on Twitter as 'factcheckUK', to tweet anti-Corbyn points during the programme to its 75,000 followers. The Conservatives changed the screen name to 'factcheckUK', and also changed the logo and biography of the account to read 'fact checking Labour from CCHQ'. "It is inappropriate and misleading for the Conservative press office to rename their Twitter account factcheckUK during this debate.
"The Conservative party press office CCHQPress rebranding themselves as 'factcheckUK shows what disdain this party and this government has for the truth," he said. The Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, Layla Moran, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that people could easily have mistaken the Conservative Twitter account for an independent factchecker. Speaking on the BBC's Newsnight on Tuesday night after the leaders' debate, the Conservative party chairman, James Cleverly, said the nature of the Twitter account was clear because its handle remained CCHQPress. Twitter has said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's ruling Conservative Party misled the public by altering the name of one of its accounts on the social media platform to mimic a fact-checking service during a televised election debate. The Conservative Campaign Headquarters press office's account, followed by nearly 76,000 Twitter users, changed its name to "factcheckUK" from its usual "CCHQPress" and switched its avatar to a white tick against a purple background.
During the ITV debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, the first ever televised head-to head encounter between Tory and Labour leaders, the party's press account changed its name and its appearance, telling people it was "fact checking Labour from CCHQ". Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly, who is responsible for the party's digital campaigning team, said he was "absolutely comfortable" with the move - saying the nature of the site was "clear". In a statement, the US company said: "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." But Royal Family actor Ralf Little said he had been suspended from Twitter after changing his account to mimic the Conservative Party press office. Labour has a Twitter account - @The_InsiderUK - which says it "fact-checks" claims made by the opposition. Dominic Raab has claimed "no one gives a toss" about the fake Tory fact-checking service set up for the TV election debate, as the party faces calls for an official investigation.