Twitter accuses Tory party of misleading public with rebranded account

20 Nov 2019

Image: PA Media

The UK Conservative Party rebranded one of its Twitter accounts as a ‘fact-checking service’ during the leaders’ debate, drawing criticism from the public and the social media platform.

Twitter has warned that any further attempts to mislead the public on its platform during the UK general election will lead to action by the social media giant.

The warning comes as the Conservative Party faced criticism after one of its official Twitter accounts was rebranded as a fact-checking service during the ITV leaders’ debate on Tuesday evening (19 November).

The Conservative Campaign Headquarters press office account was renamed ‘factcheckUK’ during the broadcast, offering commentary on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s statements and retweeting messages supporting Boris Johnson.

The @CCHQpress account is verified by the social media platform, displaying a blue tick that is intended to denote that a user is genuine.

Global rules

In response, Twitter has warned that rules are in place on the platform to prohibit behaviour that misleads the public.

“Twitter is committed to facilitating healthy debate throughout the UK general election. We have global rules in place that prohibit behaviour that can mislead people, including those with verified accounts,” a spokesperson 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.”

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 platform has also announced a ban on political adverts.

A screenshot of the CCHQ Press Twitter account while it was rebranded as a fact-checking account. It has a purple header photo that says "Fact-check UK" and has retweeted accounts supporting Boris Johnson.

Screen grab from the rebranded Conservative Party Twitter account. Image: PA Media

The Tory Twitter display name was changed back to CCHQ Press shortly after the debate ended.

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. Please do not mistake it for an independent fact checking service such as @FullFact, @FactCheck or @FactCheckNI.”

Some other Twitter users changed their display names to factcheckUK and posted critical comments about Johnson while others changed their display name to CCHQ Press Office.

– PA Media