Saturday, 23 November 2019

Who fact checks the fact checkers?

For the duration of the one-sided leaders debate ("one-sided" because both participants were more-or-less avowedly Eurosceptic...
(or in Corbyn's case "Euro-agnostic" according to the party line [which some people find hard to credit – first Cameron renegotiated UK's deal with the EU, then May negotiated a withdrawal agreement, then Johnson tinkered with that.]
...privileged, white men) the Conservative Press Office's Twitter profile enjoyed a name-change: "CCHQ Press" became "FactcheckUK".

James Cleverly tried to justify it by saying that the Twitter handle was not changed, so there was no attempt to deceive. This is disingenuous  at best, and at worst – to use Emily Maitlas's choice of words – dystopian.
"The Twitter handle" has become diminishingly significant. When I started using Twitter about 10 years ago, the Twitter handle was all you saw in the way of ID. People had witty/creative handles that said something about what they did and what their interests were. I followed, for example, @langwitch because all I knew about her was that she was an intelligent teacher of modern languages. I didn't know her name or want to know it; if I wanted to know, wouldn't that make me a stalker (or at the  very least plain nosey)?
Then Twitter screwed this up by letting people rename their accounts while keeping the same (scarcely visible, depending on the client or app you use) handle, by doubling the maximum word-count, and by a plethora of other little time-wasting tweaks that have made Twitter a virtual no-go area for me and for anyone who resents its attention-grabbing trickery.

This caused a predictable Twitter storm The Guardian had the unequivocal headline

Tories pretend to be factchecking service during leaders' debate
The public have increasingly turned to factchecking websites, such as the independent Full Fact, the BBC’s Reality Check, Channel 4 News’ FactCheck and the Guardian’s Factcheck, to verify claims made by politicians. 
During Tuesday night’s debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, the Conservative party renamed their main media account as “factcheckUK”, changed its logo to hide its political origins, and used it to push pro-Conservative material to the public. 
More here
Cleverly and his ilk would have chosen a different verb from that pretend, and in his Newsnight interview he made an unconvincing defence of the brainless wheeze dreamed up by some low-ranking minion, saying that he would continue to "call out the lies".  But that‘s not what the misbegotten rebranding of the CCHQ Press Twitter account did. Dressing up as policeman before trying to get your own way is simply a crime. The Cleverly defence is as jaw-droppingly inappropriate as a sign that says


It doesn't fool anyone. When is a fact-checking service not a fact-checking service? When it's bare-faced Tory spin.


No comments:

Post a Comment