In May, Time Magazine reported that U.S. intelligence officials had discovered evidence that Russian agents had purchased ads on Facebook to target specific populations with propaganda. A Facebook spokesman told the magazine that the company had no evidence of such buys.
Under federal law and Federal Election Commission regulations, both foreign nationals and foreign governments are prohibited from making contributions or spending money to influence a federal, state or local election in the United States. The ban includes independent expenditures made in connection with an election.
Those banned from such spending include foreign citizens, foreign governments, foreign political parties, foreign corporations, foreign associations and foreign partnerships, according to the FEC. (Permanent residents who hold green cards, however, are not considered foreign nationals.) Violators face civil penalties, as well as criminal prosecution if they are found to have knowingly broken the law.