'There's too much misinformation about' - South Yorkshire voters left feeling annoyed and confused over fake newspapers

Fake newspapers and misleading letters have left general election voters across South Yorkshire feeling annoyed and confused.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 6:02 pm

Both voters and the Society of Editors have criticised the election leaflets masquerading as newspapers while a personal letter from a “polling expert” who is actually a Liberal Democrat activist has also prompted complaints.

Two election leaflets have been particularly criticised. The Lib Dems’ Hallamshire Herald is described as ‘a free newspaper’ and looks like a traditional paper with a ‘news comment’ inside.

And the Conservatives’ Rother Valley Future again looks very similar to a traditional tabloid newspaper.

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Some of the election material designed to look like local newspapers

Sheffield Disabled People Against Cuts said it was not obvious that some of the material related to the general election.

Jennifer Jones of DPAC was particularly critical of the Conservatives saying: “Is this obviously electoral material? Or will people think it's a real new or community produced newspaper?

“There’s been fake videos of opposition politicians, the fake ‘fact checking’ Twitter account which was set up by the Conservatives during the television leadership debate and goodness knows what else. At what point do we think the Conservatives have gone too far with misleading the public?”

Some of the election material designed to look like local newspapers

A Lib Dem letter personally addressed to voters in Sheffield Hallam and Penistone and Stocksbridge constituencies has also been slammed.

It is from Mike Smithson, who describes himself as a ‘polling and elections expert’, but he is a Lib Dem and the letter is from their head office in London.

Mr Smithson says in the letter: ‘I have earned my living by cutting through the spin to see what the data really says’ and finishes by adding ‘I’m not here to tell you who to vote for but I hope this information is useful to you when making a decision in this election’.

There is no Lib Dem branding on the letter, apart from tiny lettering on the bottom saying they are promoting it.

Some of the election material designed to look like local newspapers

One Penistone and Stocksbridge voter said: “I think it’s out of order. There’s too much misinformation about and this is just incorrect.

“Anyone without 20/20 vision wouldn’t see the tiny Lib Dem address. I would urge everyone to question everything they read or receive”