Huffington Post: Foreigners Can Tweet About U.S. Politics. They Just Can’t Buy Ads To Promote A Candidate.


The 13 Russian nationals indicted by a federal grand jury Friday were not charged simply because they are foreigners suspected of interfering in a U.S. presidential campaign. They were charged because they, and the companies employing them, paid for propaganda to interfere in the election. It is not illegal for a foreign national to voice an opinion on U.S. politics or candidates. If you aren’t a U.S. citizen and you want to tell your Twitter fam ― whether that’s 342 followers or 10,000 ― that people shouldn’t vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, that’s cool. You can even volunteer in real life if you want. It is, however, not cool if you spend money to promote that message through advertising on a digital platform.


“The foreign national ban applies to prohibit the foreign actor from making any independent expenditure or electioneering communication or any other expenditure for the purpose of influencing an election,” Brendan Fischer, a lawyer for the campaign finance watchdog Campaign Legal Center, told HuffPost.


“[Mueller] only focused in on the ads that expressly advocated,” Fischer said. “He didn’t get into the broader array of ads that didn’t mention a candidate or run near an election.”


“The concern is that the signal this indictment sends is that foreign nationals are only prohibited from running digital political ads that expressly advocate for or against candidates,” Fischer said, adding that “we’ve just signaled to foreign nationals about how they can word their candidate and election ads next time and avoid breaking the law.”

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