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Twitter warns against ‘attempts to mislead people’ after Tory account rebranded

The social media firm warned it will take action if there are ‘any further attempts to mislead people by editing verified profile info’.

Twitter earlier this month launched a new tool to enable people to report deliberately misleading details about the voting process (Lauren Hurley/PA)
Twitter earlier this month launched a new tool to enable people to report deliberately misleading details about the voting process (Lauren Hurley/PA)

By Dominica Sanda, PA

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.

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 Twitter, displaying a blue tick which is intended to denote that a user is genuine.

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Screen grab from the rebranded Conservative Party Twitter account (twitter.com/cchqpress)

In response, Twitter has warned that rules are in place on the platform which 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 spokeswoman 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.

The Conservative Party came under fire after the move on Tuesday night.

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

The UK’s library and information association – CILIP – on Wednesday submitted a complaint to the Conservative Party over the issue.

Your party’s actions in misrepresenting itself as a legitimate fact checking service cross a line which ought never to be crossed CILIP chief executive Nick Poole

In the letter, CILIP chief executive Nick Poole said the party crossed a line “which ought never to be crossed”.

“Your party’s actions in misrepresenting itself as a legitimate fact checking service cross a line which ought never to be crossed – raising the spectre of state-sponsored misinformation and the deliberate undermining of truth and accountability which should have no place in British politics,” Mr Poole said.

He added that the party’s communication and leadership team breached its own code of conduct and called for an investigation to be launched.

Mr Poole warned that if the party failed to investigate, CILIP would take the matter to the Electoral Commission.

The move was also criticised by independent fact-checking charity Full Fact, which 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 Mr Johnson while others changed their display name to CCHQ Press Office.

PA

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