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Russian-linked campaign used Pokemon Go to meddle in election
13 October 2017, 04:33 | Jodi Jackson
One of the prizes
According to a CNN report, the Internet Research Agency-Russia's online dirty tricks squad-included the smash mobile game in a wider campaign to incite hatred and racial division within America.
Within this latticework of deception was a "contest" that asked players to train their Pikachus near sites where police brutality occurred, and then name their creatures after the real-life victims. CNN uncovered YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter pages for Don't Shoot Us as well. The contest featured a Pokemon named "Eric Garner" as an example. If Pokemon Go players completed those two tasks, they could send a screenshot to an email in return for supposed prizes, including Amazon gift cards. Game maker Niantic Labs told CNN that users can't actually share information in the game with each other.
The most surprising revelation is that this group also used the popular augmented reality app Pokémon Go to plant divisive messages. This "contest" required people to take screen shots from their phone and share over other social networks, not within our game.
Virtually everything the Don't Shoot Us social media accounts (which were active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and elsewhere) published or shared was meant to stir up trouble or cause division by taking advantage of activists who had grievances with the justice system in the United States.
Given the lack of evidence surrounding any ties to Russians, and the fact that CNN was unable to get verification from Tumblr about who actually operates the page, it's safe to say that the news regarding Russians having ties to Pokemon Go should be wholly disregarded until more reputable reports with irrefutable evidence is presented. Still, it's clear that the IRA was aware of the popularity of the app (especially in July 2016, the same month it launched) and was willing to make use of any tools in its arsenal to promote unrest among the American people. Read the full CNN investigation here.
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