THE independence campaign has promised to make changes to its website after opponents of the cause claimed they were being misrepresented as apparent backers.

Leaders of the pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign were accused of employing deliberate deception to exaggerate support, by parading names and photographs of opponents on its website as supposedly approving independence.

Anyone following the Yes Scotland site on Twitter, including those tracking the campaign from a neutral or even hostile perspective, could end up appearing on a roll-call of "people o' independent mind" – a phrase seen as denoting support for independence.

Last night a senior organiser of the Yes campaign, Jennifer Dempsie, said: "The intention was never to mislead. We are prepared to change this."

She insisted it was a new, organic website which was changing all the time, and denied the phrase "people o' independent mind" implied support for the campaign. She said: "It was never our intention to categorise people that way and those coming in through Twitter have to opt in and agree to conditions."

The abuse first came to light when Liberal Democrat blogger Caron Lindsay expressed astonishment at appearing on that roll without her knowledge. She said: "Beware when you hear the Yes campaign bragging about how many supporters it has. They are counting the electronic equivalent of someone taking a leaflet off them in the street."

Scots LibDem leader Willie Rennie said: "Following an individual or group on Twitter should not be misrepresented as support. This is an underhanded way to pad out numbers to make it look like more people support the break-up of the UK than is actually the case."

Twitter uses the word "follower" to describe anyone who tracks an online site, but in fact many of those who do so are neutral, such as journalists, while others are hostile, including political opponents.

The Yes site used names and photographs of such followers to create a section on the website, stating: "Powered by people o' independent mind, like you."

Yesterday the site added the line "- following Yes Scotland on Twitter and Facebook," but this was seen as insufficient to clarify the issue.

It still meant Labour MP Tom Harris and Labour MSP Drew Smith were among those surprised to find themselves co-opted to the independence cause. Mr Harris, MP for Glasgow South, laughed it off on his own site, likening the practice to enlisting as supporters people who are not at home when canvassers call. He added: "Everyone who owns a Bay City Rollers CD assumed to be a supporter of Yes Scotland."

Glasgow MSP Mr Smith said: "This system doesn't just deceive – it is designed to deceive. My name, photograph and supposed endorsement must be removed from this website immediately."

His colleague for North East Scotland, Richard Baker, said: "This is a shambles. From a lacklustre launch last week, we see the SNP deploying increasingly desperate measures to exaggerate support.

"The partial U-turn overnight throws up more questions than it answers, and raises serious privacy questions for the Yes campaign. To give the impression of having support from people who are merely mentioning the referendum on Twitter is deeply misleading and will infuriate people."

Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: "This is clearly designed to deceive. Alex Salmond has been caught out once again."