In Depth

Tory ‘factcheckUK’ Twitter account scam backfires

Conservatives accused of ‘misleading’ voters with social media rebranding

The Conservative Party “misled” voters by rebranding one of its social media accounts to suggest it was an independent fact-checking service, Twitter has said.

The @CCHQPress account, which belongs to the Conservative Party press office, was renamed “factcheckUK” and given a new logo for the duration of the televised leaders’ debate on Tuesday evening.

The Tories have been accused of attempting to hide the account’s political origins and be seen as an independent fact-checking service, says The Guardian.

The account’s colour scheme was changed to a non-Conservative colour and all references to “Conservatives” were removed.

The only hint of the account’s political affiliation was a mention of “CCHQ” – an acronym that stands for Conservative Campaign Headquarters and one that is not widely known outside Westminster, says The Telegraph.

Asked about the stunt, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said “no one gives a toss” about social media, the BBC reports.

Twitter said in a statement: “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.”

Despite the fact the tweets published by the account were “clearly partisan”, many users seeing posts would have had no idea of their origin.

Genuine fact-checking website Full Fact called the Conservatives’ move “inappropriate and misleading”.

The Labour Party said: “The Conservatives’ laughable attempt to dupe those watching the #ITVDebate by renaming their twitter account shows you can’t trust a word they say.”

The Liberal Democrats said it was “straight out of Donald Trump or Putin’s playbook”, adding the Tories were “deliberately misleading the public”.

Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly defended the rebranding, saying he was “absolutely comfortable” with it.

It follows CCHQ’s move earlier in the election campaign to release a doctored video of Sir Keir Starmer, in which the shadow Brexit secretary was made to look stumped by a question.

Johnny Mercer, the Tory candidate in Plymouth Moor View, apologised for sharing the Conservative press office’s video, saying it had “inexplicably been doctored”.

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