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20 November 2019 18:37

Factcheck UK

Twitter threatens Tories over ‘misleading’ fake fact-check account

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.

It made the change on Tuesday while Johnson was debating Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, on live television weeks before the United Kingdom's December 12 election. 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 is inappropriate and misleading for the Conservative press office to rename their Twitter account 'factcheckUK' during this debate. It is inappropriate and misleading for the Conservative press office to rename their twitter account 'factcheckUK' during this debate. The account description during the debate was "Fact Checking Labour from CCHQ". Senior Tories have dismissed criticism of the rebranding of one of their Twitter accounts as a "fact-checking" site during the leaders' debate amid claims it deceived the public.

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.

The foreign secretary came under fire after the Conservative press office Twitter account – with more than 75,000 followers – changed its name to factcheckUK, before pumping out support for Boris Johnson. Twitter warned the Tories not to repeat the stunt, saying: "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." However, as the debate started, Tory staffers replaced the party's logo with a purple tick, and changed the description to tell people the account was "fact checking Labour from CCHQ". '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.' Independent fact-checking charity Full Fact tweeted: 'It is inappropriate and misleading for the Conservative press office to rename their twitter account 'factcheckUK' during this debate. He told BBC Newsnight after the debate: 'The Twitter handle of the CCHQ press office remained @CCHQPress so it's clear the nature of the site. Asked if he knew about the change, Mr Cleverly said: 'The digital team have got a remit, I set that remit, they work within the remit and I'm absolutely comfortable with them calling out when the Labour Party puts what they know to be complete fabrications in the public domain – and we will call that out every time they do it.'