Russian broadcaster tried to take over anti-Trump, anti-Clinton Twitter accounts: report

Russian broadcaster tried to take over anti-Trump, anti-Clinton Twitter accounts: report
© Getty Images

RT, the Russian government-backed broadcaster, tried to take over two Twitter handles to help promote its coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign, Foreign Policy reported on Thursday.

The media outlet reportedly told Twitter's advertising department last year that it wanted to use the accounts — @NotHillary and @NotTrump — to boost its election coverage. Twitter ultimately rejected the request.

Twitter has a policy that allows companies to take over accounts that have remained inactive for a certain amount of time. But it reportedly denied RT's request because it violated its advertising policies.

ADVERTISEMENT

The @NotHillary account has not tweeted since May 2014, and the @NotTrump account last tweeted in April 2011, meaning neither actively posted during the 2016 race. 

RT told Foreign Policy that its effort to take over the Twitter handles was part of an abandoned project to engage with online opponents of then-candidates Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMilitary personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has total of 20 patients: report Fauci says that all states should have stay-at-home orders MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFormer Obama adviser Plouffe predicts 'historical level' of turnout by Trump supporters Poll: More Republican voters think party is more united than Democratic voters Whoopi Goldberg presses Sanders: 'Why are you still in the race?' MORE.

“Trump and Clinton both were entering the election with some of the highest ‘unfavorable’ ratings for presumptive nominees,” RT’s head of communications, Anna Belkina, told Foreign Policy in an email.

“RT wanted to explore this subject deeper by engaging into a conversation with the people who were neither in favor of Clinton, nor in favor of Trump, which is the opposite of ‘expressing a clear preference’ for either candidate," she added. "As part of this idea, we were considering ways how to adapt it to Twitter, however, we discontinued the concept and did not pursue handle ownership.”

The U.S. intelligence community concluded in a report released in January that the Russian government ran an influence and hacking campaign that sought to sway the 2016 election in Trump's favor and politically damage Clinton.

In that report, RT is referred to as "the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet." It alleges that RT ultimately sought to expose its audience to "Kremlin messaging," and that the outlet was part of Russian "influence efforts to denigrate Secretary Clinton."