The government today denied it is responsible for creating a raft of fake Twitter accounts posing as NHS workers, saying to do so would ‘undermine the national effort against Coronavirus’.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) denied creating the accounts in order to push unpopular Tory opinions by posing as valued members of the National Health Service.
Twitter user John O’Connell claimed this morning that he had found 128 fake NHS staff accounts which, over the course of last week, called for the public to ‘ban the clap’ for NHS staff on Thursdays and instead ‘clap for Boris Johnson’. They also repeatedly appeared to support the government’s ‘herd immunity’ policy.
O’Connell claimed that all 128 accounts were created using Hootsuite, a mass posting tool, and were operated from an account belonging to an individual linked with the DHSC and Matt Hancock.
Despite the link, no firm evidence has emerged and all the fake accounts – many of which used pictures stolen from the accounts of actual NHS staff – have since been deleted.
“These claims are categorically false,” the DHSC posted from its official Twitter account. “To share disinformation of this kind undermines the national effort against Coronavirus.”
Political analyst, Steve Hertz, commented on the event which today left the Twittersphere in a buzz, saying, “the government are not going to admit culpability, but we can extrapolate on the likelihood of their guilt based on previous form… and they have a lot of previous form.”
Hertz provided some damning examples, “the Tories routinely use underhand methods to post propaganda on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms and have been caught numerous times posting doctored videos which make them look good and the opposition bad.”
“However, this would be the first time the NHS have been exploited in what would, frankly, be a despicable and unforgivable way in order to push forward a government narrative.”
During the election campaign, the Conservatives were accused of of misleading the public after they re-branded one of their official party accounts to make it look like a fact-checking service.
During an ITV leaders’ debate, Dominic Raab said on the subject of his party’s disingenuous use of Twitter, “nobody gives a toss.”
In November 2019 the Tories were slammed for handing out election leaflets designed to look like local newspapers.
The ‘paper’ which featured a string of pro-Brexit stories and opinion pieces from the Prime Minister himself turned out to be part of the Tory election campaign.
Just two weeks ago Twitter users were bemused when an identical post supporting the #clapforboris hashtag campaign was tweeted by Tory MP Nadine Dories and Tory sympathiser Keith Sweet.
Steve Hertz said, “there’s a precedent for the Tories abusing Twitter to release propaganda, is all I’m saying. Your readers can make up their own minds.”