Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Trust issues

I think we may have reached Peak Tory: Boris Johnson blathering on in the leaders' debate about the importance of trust and truthfulness at the exact same time as one of their official Twitter accounts, CCHQPress, had disguised itself as an impartial fact-checking site and was busy spreading lies about Labour. You really couldn't make it up.

With the dissemination of fake news via social media and strategies used to deceive and manipulate voters at the expense of democracy a major and very genuine contemporary concern, the stunt was staggeringly crass, unethical and irresponsible.

It's a surprise that even the Tories would stoop so low - but, predictably enough, they've subsequently issued the usual airy dismissals and paper-thin justifications, with James Cleverley claiming he was "absolutely comfortable" with it all and Dominic Raab insisting that no one could have been fooled and "no one gives a toss about social media cut and thrust". Thousands if not millions of people profoundly disagree.

More depressing, arguably, is Twitter's response: "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." In other words, nothing more than a light tap on the wrist for cynical abuse of the platform. The Tories' media strategists will be slapping each other on the back considerably harder.

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