Europe

UK Conservatives slammed for 'factcheckUK' Twitter handle switch

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Britain's Conservatives provoked criticism on Tuesday after temporarily renaming its Twitter account "factcheckUK" during the live TV debate between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party was criticised by fact-checkers and the opposition Labour Party on Tuesday for changing the name of one of its Twitter accounts to make it look like a fact-checking service during a televised election debate.

The ruling Conservative Party rebranded its @CCHQPress account during the hour-long prime-time event, and began firing off real-time rebuttals to statements made by Mr Corbyn, before reverting to its usual name.

factcheck uk
Twitter

The tactic caused an outcry by at least one fact-checking agency, rival parties as well as other Twitter users.

"It is inappropriate and misleading for the Conservative press office to rename their Twitter account 'factcheckUK' during this debate," Britain's independent fact-checking charity Full Fact said in a statement.

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

Tom Brake, of the Liberal Democrats Party said the tactic was "straight out of Donald Trump or Putin's playbook."

"The Tories are now resorting to deliberately misleading the public," he added.

The scathing response was echoed by Labour, with the party's MP David Lammy tweeting that it showed "what disdain this party and this government has for the truth."

He said: "The Electoral Commission must investigate and punish this blatant attempt to deceive the public."

But the Conservatives Chairman James Cleverly defended the move, telling Sky News it had "made it absolutely clear it is a Conservative Party website".

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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