Twitter warns Tories after they rebrand official account as 'FactcheckUK' during leaders’ debate

Posted On: 
19th November 2019

Twitter has threatened to take "decisive action" against the Conservatives if they repeat a move to re-brand an official party  account as “FactCheckUK”.

The official Tory press account rebranded as 'factcheckUK' during the TV debate
Credit: 
Twitter

The switch from was made at the start of the head-to-head TV debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, then changed back immediately after.

Throughout the televised clash, a series of tweets were posted from the account challenging claims made by the Labour leader.

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And at the end, it declared that the "factcheckUK verdict" was that Mr Johnson had won.

In a statement criticising the Tories, the social media giant said it was "committed to facilitating healthy debate throughout the UK general election".

A spokesperson added: "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."

Labour’s Barry Gardiner meanwhile said the public regard the Tories as “dodgy” and added: “This latest scam to try and present themselves as a fact checking organisation just proves it."

A Labour spokesperson said: "The Conservatives' laughable attempt to dupe those watching the ITV debate by renaming their twitter account shows you can't trust a word they say."

Lib Dem Tom Brake said: "This is straight out of Donald Trump or Putin’s playbook. Not content with excluding the voice of Remain from this debate, the Tories are now resorting to deliberately misleading the public.

"People know they can't trust a word that Boris Johnson or the Conservatives say."

The independent fact-checking charity FullFact also condemned the decision, saying: “It is inappropriate and misleading for the Conservative press office to rename their twitter account ‘factcheckUK’ during this debate.

“Please do not mistake it for an independent fact checking service such as FullFact.”

But a senior Conservative source defended the "entirely appropriate" decision, saying "it was needed to fact check" Mr Corbyn's claims.

Tory chairman James Cleverly said they had made it “absolutely clear it is a Conservative Party website”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Dominic Raab also said the party will "make no apology" for rebutting "nonsense and lies" over the Conservative position.

"We’ll look at the advice from Twitter but we will make no apology for having instant rebuttal of the nonsense and lies," he said.

"I think the account was very clearly linked to CCHQ...but we’re rebutting the nonsense that systematically gets put out about the Conservative position so that voters know the truth."