Lifezette: Law Is Murky Regarding Russian Facebook Ads


Election laws prohibit campaign contributions and other electioneering by foreigners. That potentially could apply to some of the ads that Facebook turned over to congressional investigators since they reportedly mentioned President Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.


Brendan Fischer, director of federal and FEC Reform at the Campaign Legal Center, takes a more expansive view of how foreign political activity could run afoul of the statute.

“It’s pretty broad,” he said. But Fischer said ads like the Black Lives Matter Facebook campaign are not as clear-cut.

“It’s debatable whether the foreign national ban would extend to these things,” he said. Even if Russian trolls did violate the law, however, it is unclear what could be done to enforce it. Fischer said Facebook likely would not face legal liability for accepting the ads. And apprehending Russians would be obviously problematic, he said. “It’s obviously questionable whether [special counsel] Bob Mueller or the FEC or the DOJ [Department of Justice} could actually extradite them,” he said.

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