A ‘government consultation’ isn’t skewing data on lockdowns

26 November 2021
What was claimed

The UK government is skewing data collected in a public consultation on lockdown measures.

Our verdict

There is no such government consultation on lockdown measures. The survey described is actually run by YouGov, which is not part of the UK government.

A post on Facebook, shared by anti-lockdown campaign group Save Our Rights UK, claims that the UK government is manipulating data in a public consultation process about lockdown measures. 

This is not true. The post confuses the government with YouGov, an international research data and analytics group, which regularly carries out polling on issues involving current affairs such as prospective Covid-19 restrictions. 

This work shared on Facebook was not carried out for the UK government, and is instead part of the YouGov Chat tool, which is not intended to give a representative sample of public opinion, unlike other opinion surveys run by YouGov. 

YouGov Chat is designed to let people see how people who answered an initial question in a similar way to them responded to other questions. In the case of this survey, the first question was: “How safe do you think it is to socialise indoors with someone who has chosen not to get the Covid-19 vaccine?”

Depending on how an individual responded to this question, they would then see the percentage share of responses to other questions made by people who answered the same way. 

The Save Our Rights UK post, which begins with the words “GOVERNMENT MANIPULATING DATA”  claims that the results of a YouGov survey using the Chat tool were actually part of a “public consultation”. 

The survey in question includes questions such as: “Would you support a ban on unvaccinated people entering all public indoor spaces?” and “Do you think it’s acceptable to mandate vaccines for all?” 

The Facebook post goes on to claim that the way the “consultation” is set up is a deliberate attempt made by the government to influence responses and reinforce confirmation bias (meaning an individual is given information that supports their pre-existing beliefs). 

In response to criticism on Twitter, a spokesperson for YouGov tweeted that YouGov Chat “is a qualitative tool and is entirely separate from YouGov's representative opinion polling. YouGov Chat allows users to answer questions and give more detailed responses in their own words about topics of interest.

“We typically run parallel Chats – one for supporters of a position, one for opponents – so the breakdown of support within a Chat is often one sided. As we clearly state within the tool, responses to each Chat aren’t weighted and don't represent the public as a whole.”

Full Fact has contacted Save Our Rights UK for comment.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as partly false because the “government consultation” mentioned in the post is not a government consultation at all. It is a qualitative survey run by the company YouGov, and is not intended to be representative.

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.