'Misleading' - Conservative's condemned for rebranding Twitter account as fact-checking service

The Conservative Campaign Headquarters press office account was renamed during the debate

The Conservative Campaign Headquarters press office account was renamed during the debate

Twitter spoke out after the Conservative Campaign Headquarters press office changed the name of its account from "CCHQPress" to "factcheckUK" while Prime Minister Boris Johnson was debating Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Tuesday night.

He told BBC Breakfast: "I knock on doors every day".

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted the party did not need to apologise for countering the "lies" that were "serially and systematically" put out by Labour and its allies on social media. "What they care about is the substance of the issues, and of course there's a huge amount of scepticism about the claims of all politicians".

"What we are not going to do is have this nonsense put around by Labour".

In a joint pastoral letter to the Church of England, they said: "As followers of Jesus Christ each of us is called to honour the gift of truth, both to speak it and to seek it".

The account description during the debate was "Fact Checking Labour from CCHQ".

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Mr Raab said it was part of the Conservative Party's "instant rebuttal" mechanism for challenging the "nonsense" put out by Labour on the NHS and other issues during the general election campaign.

Twitter said it would take "decisive corrective action" if a similar stunt was attempted again, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

"Twitter is committed to facilitating healthy debate throughout the United Kingdom general election", a Twitter spokesperson was quoted as saying.

"We have global rules in place that prohibit behaviour that can mislead people, including those with verified accounts".

A verified Conservative Party account rebranded "factcheckUK" during a debate between Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, pushing out pro-Conservative messaging and making widely contested claims about Labour which it called 'facts'.

In responses on social media, some Twitter users also changed their display names to factcheckUK in response, and posted critical comments about Johnson, while others rebranded themselves "CCHQ Press Office".

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At a stroke, the account had gone from being clearly associated with a political party to appearing to be an independent fact checker.

Fact-checking agency Full Fact said voters depended on social media for information and episodes like this risked compromising public trust.

Twitter says it will take "corrective action" if the Conservatives repeat a campaign stunt which saw them change the name of one of its Twitter accounts to look like a fact-checking service.

After the debate had finished, the CCHQ resumed its original Conservative Party branding as though nothing had happened.

Twitter has been bolstering its efforts to block misleading information during the election campaign after earlier this month launching a new tool to enable people to report deliberately misleading details about the voting process.

The company also said last month it would stop all political advertising, making the United Kingdom election one of the first major tests for the new policy.

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