There is no U.S. law that prevents candidates, parties or political groups from launching their own disinformation campaigns, either in-house or through a contractor, so long as foreign money isn’t involved. It’s up to individual candidates to decide their tolerance for the practice. Broadly, U.S. campaign finance laws don’t regulate free social media accounts. Even a vast network of inauthentic bot and troll accounts would likely be treated as a protected form of political speech.
Axios reached out to the parties to see if they took active stances on the issue. “The DNC does not hire outside entities to generate inauthentic content, and we advise campaigns against engaging in these activities,” Democratic National Committee chief security officer Bob Lord told Axios. The Republican National Committee did not respond to several requests for comment. Campaigns can act in ways the national party does not endorse, and political committees, in turn, can act in ways the candidates do not endorse.
As you likely know, campaigns around the world have used troll armies to spread disinformation, rig online polls, and inflame dissent.