The Conservatives have caused a row after they rebranded their Press Office Twitter account to ‘Factcheck UK’.
The CCHQPress account on Twitter, which is verified and has nearly 76,000 followers, was re-branded on Tuesday evening as Boris Johnson went head-to-head with Jeremy Corbyn in a live ITV election debate. The account’s name, profile photo and cover photo were changed, and the account’s bio was changed to read ‘Fact checking Labour from CCHQ’.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Wednesday, Dominic Raab said “We’ve had all sorts of nonsense thrown at the Conservatives. We’re going to be in the process – one of the things we learned from the last election – of having a really good instant rebuttal of the nonsense,”. The Conservatives have claimed that it was obvious that the account was run by them as the account’s handle remained as CCHQPress.
However, Twitter said in a statement that the Conservatives had misled the public and it would take “decisive corrective action” if a similar stunt was attempted again.
“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.”
Charity run Fact-checking website FullFact heavily criticised the Conservatives for the stunt and described it as “inappropriate and misleading”. David Lammy, a Labour MP, called on the Electoral Commission to investigate and punish what he called “a blatant attempt to deceive the public”. The commission said “While we do not have a role in regulating election campaign content, we repeat our call to all campaigners to undertake their vital role responsibly and to support campaigning transparency.”
The Conservatives claimed they won the first leaders debate of the election campaign last night, however they didn’t appear to be any clear winner based on the snap polls following the debate.