Britain’s Conservative Party was accused Wednesday of trying to deceive voters by changing the name of its press office Twitter account to “factcheckUK” during a televised election debate between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Rebranded to resemble a neutral fact-checking account, it posted a series of tweets supporting Johnson during Tuesday’s debate. It later reverted to the name “CCHQ Press” and restored the party logo to its profile.
Organizations that seek to combat political misinformation cried foul.
“It was an attempt to mislead voters,” Will Moy, chief executive of the London-based fact-checking website Full Fact, told the BBC. “And I think it is inappropriate and misleading for a serious political party to behave that way.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab defended the party’s actions, saying the Twitter account was clearly linked to the Conservatives.
“We make no apology for having an instant rebuttal to all the nonsense and lies put out,” Raab told the BBC.
Twitter pledged to take “decisive corrective action” against similar strategies in the future. But the manipulation of the account in a high-profile event put the issue of the rise of digital campaigning squarely in the public eye.
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