Is the Mail on Sunday in a different time zone? Or how it got a string of facts wrong

The Mail on Sunday has made a basic and repeated series of factual errors in a piece today about Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone.

In the piece the paper repeatedly claims that Lynne has sent tweets in the middle of the night: “1am tweets”, “one post, made at 1:38am…”, “at 12:29am…” and so on. There’s even a screenshot apparently verifying this pattern of middle of the night tweets.

Except, if you take a look at the Twitter website and look up the tweets in question you see they are all time-stamped with different times. Take the two in the screenshot used by the Mail which give a time:

Mail on Sunday screenshot time-stamp: 5:52am, May 25th
Twitter website time-stamps: 1:52pm, May 25th

Mail on Sunday screenshot time-stamp: 1:19am, May 25th
Twitter website time-stamps: 9:19am, May 25th

As you can see, far from being in the middle of the night, these tweets were actually sent mid-morning and mid-afternoon. The same applies for all the tweets mentioned in the text of the story: they were actually sent 8 hours after the Mail says they were. (I know the time stamps on the Twitter site are correct because they cross-check against other information, such as when the tweets appeared in my timeline, the publication date and time of blog posts which triggered the tweets and so on.)

The most obvious explanation appears to be that the Mail set-up has the wrong time zone in some way and therefore wrongly reported the times. Of course, if the Mail had checked the story more carefully it would have discovered this… but as it stands the wrong times give the story a whole false implied tone of questionable tweets sent at questionable hours. In fact, the only questionable activity is the Mail’s ability to tell the time.

UPDATE: Should perhaps have added that there’s a series of other mistakes in the piece and have now confirmed that the Mail didn’t check any of the contents of the story with Lynne Featherstone before publishing.

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