Caroline Voaden, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament has written to Twitter's CEO and Co-Founder Jack Dorsey calling on him to take a strong stance against a misinformation stunt staged by the Conservative Party (UK) press office Twitter account in which it posed as an impartial fact-checking service during a key TV debate ahead of the 2019 UK General Election.
Read the full text of the letter below:
Twitter CEO and
1355 Market St. Ste. 900
San Francisco, CA 94103
Dear Jack Dorsey,
I am writing as leader of the Liberal Democrat European Parliamentary Party to outline our grave concerns with the behaviour of the twitter account “@CCHQPress”, followed by nearly 76,000 users, which temporarily rebranded their official party account to make it look like a fact-checking service during a leaders’ debate as part of the British general election on the evening of the 19th November 2019.
We were left shocked and deeply concerned by this dirty trick, a blatant attempt to misinform the British electorate, straight out of Vladimir Putin’s playbook. We all have a duty to combat this type of disinformation, which is a threat to liberal democracies worldwide.
We fear this behaviour, from a once respected and mainstream political party, may set a precedent for authoritarian and illiberal Governments and political movements across Europe and beyond.
Under the voluntary Code of Practice on Disinformation agreed between the European Commission and online platforms in 2018, we would remind you that you committed to recognise the Commission’s conclusions that "the exposure of citizens to large scale Disinformation, including misleading or outright false information, is a major challenge for Europe. Our open democratic societies depend on public debates that allow well-informed citizens to express their will through free and fair political processes".
In our view, obliging by this Code of Practice means acting against this kind of behaviour.
The British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, has disgracefully since defended the rebranding of the account suggesting that ‘no one gives a toss’.
On behalf of the millions of people we represent, we do care and we are disappointed that Twitter failed to block the account and your subsequent failure to act.
We would ask you to again consider removing the verified status of this account as soon as possible, as we believe your global rules intended to prohibit behaviour that can mislead people have been breached.
Caroline Voaden MEP`