The Conservative Party’s chair has faced criticism from the public and media for the party’s decision to rebrand their Twitter as a fact checking service.
Speaking on BBC Newsnight, Emily Maitlis told the party’s chairman James Cleverly that the decision was “dystopian” and went against the prime minister’s claims about integrity.
She said: “The Conservative press office was pretending to be a fact-checking service, renaming itself with a credibility tick. You are misleading the public, you were trying to coach your propaganda as hardened fact.”
One of the UK’s most respected fact-checking organisations Full Fact had already criticised the Conservatives for changing their Twitter handle to “factcheckUK” for the ITV debate.
Full Fact tweeted: “It is inappropriate and misleading for the Conservative press office to rename their twitter account ‘factcheckUK’ during this debate.”
Emily Maitlis piled on the criticism, adding: “You were misleading the public. Why would you have to change it to soemthing that says fact check if people believed you?
“You dressed up party lines as a fact check service. That’s dystopian.”
At the end of the debate the account even declared that Boris Johnson was the winner.
Representatives for Twitter have said the social media platform will not allow users with ‘verified’ blue ticks to do this again, and that if this is repeated there will be “decisive corrective action”.
Dawn Butler, the shadow minister for women and equalities, told Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s not enough. We’ve been talking about the responsibilities of the social media platforms for quite a while. And they have to do better. And I think this is another example where social media has failed.”
The Electoral Commission has released a statement saying they cannot intervene in the dispute because they don’t have a role regulating what parties say during election campaigns.
Cleverly attempted to suggest the Tories were calling out ‘wilful misinformation’ from Jeremy Corbyn, claiming: “We called out the Labour Party’s wilful misinformation about the NHS – any time they do that we will call it out.”
Elsewhere in the interview Maitlis noted how it was in fact the Tories being dishonest about the NHS, with Boris Johnson lying about “building 40 new hospitals when we know they’re only investing in six new hospitals.”