Top Government figures more likely to share misleading content

New analysis suggests that top Government accounts are more likely to be caught sharing false or misleading information online than those belonging to the official opposition.

The research, undertaken by Best for Britain, examined the number of Community Notes accrued by all members of the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet, as well as their official party accounts, on X (formerly Twitter). 

The fact-checking feature was made available in the UK from 20th January 2023 and allows users to add context below posts containing false or misleading information. According to X,  a Community Note is only widely displayed after it receives enough support from people representing a broad range of political viewpoints.

In total, 73 posts from Government party accounts had Community Notes attached, compared to 15 from official opposition accounts; almost a five-fold difference. 

The worst offender was the official Conservative Party account which was noted 26 times on posts which included manipulated videos, false claims about the opposition leader and also misleading statements about the economy, and tax cuts.

A close second was the prime minister himself who, despite promising “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level”, was pulled up a jaw-dropping 25 times. Nine times since the start of 2024, five in the first week of January alone, where he was flagged for falsely claiming the Government had cleared the asylum backlog, erroneously taking credit for falls in inflation, and alleging that the Government had cut taxes.  

This is not the first time that Sunak has been called out for his use of X. In May last year, he was criticised for abusing an accessibility feature, put in place to support visually impaired users, to promote his own political agenda. 

By contrast, Keir Starmer’s account has received four Community Notes in the same period, the majority of which related to last year’s local elections, and the official Labour Party account received seven. Jeremy Hunt, James Cleverly, Gillian Keegan, Grant Shapps, Michael Gove, Penny Mordaunt, Mel Stride, Mark Harper, Richard Holden and Victoria Atkins also all received more Community Notes than their counterparts in the shadow-cabinet. Atkins has only been on the platform since November 2023. 

The only shadow-cabinet minister who received more Community Notes than their Conservative counterpart was David Lammy, receiving two to Cameron’s zero although Cameron has only been in the Cabinet for four months.  

In their most recent report, the Edelman Trust Barometer showed the UK had the steepest decline in public trust globally. Campaigners say the governing party’s habit of sharing misleading information on social media is further undermining public trust in politics and underlines the urgent need for an early General Election. Recent Best for Britain polling shows that an overwhelming majority (65%) want to go to the polls no later than June 2024. 

Naomi Smith, CEO of Best for Britain and founder of tactical voting site said,

“Having witnessed the devastating impact that misleading information had on the outcome of the Brexit referendum, these findings shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially in an election year where lack of trust can feed dangerous populism.

“A government that the public can’t trust to act with integrity and transparency - both essential for liberal democracy - is a Government that shouldn’t be in power. We need a General Election and our polling shows that the public want it now.”

All data can be found here.

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