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Gotta Influence ‘em All: Russia Used Pokémon Go In Meddling

by Countable | 10.18.17

Next month, representatives from Google, Facebook, and Twitter will appear before the Senate and House Intelligence Committees to discuss how the Kremlin leveraged social media to spread fake news during the 2016 presidential election. Apparently, Congress should have also invited Pikachu to the hearings.

A report from CNN found that part of the Russian campaign to exacerbate U.S. racial tensions involved utilizing Pokémon Go.

The campaign was linked to the now-infamous Internet Research Agency, the Russian-backed "troll farm" tasked with infiltrating American social media and spreading fake news in an effort to, as CNN explained, “exacerbate racial tensions and sow discord among Americans.”

"Don’t Shoot Us," was one such multi-platform campaign. Meant to mimic the Black Lives Matter movement, Don’t Shoot Us – a reference to Michael Brown’s “Hands up, don’t shoot!” – included a website and associated content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

And Pokémon Go.

In July 2016, the Don’t Shoot Us Tumblr account announced a contest: Pokémon Go players were encouraged to name their Pokémon "with a U.S. police brutality victim’s name," train the pocket monsters at gyms “near the crime scene,” then take take screenshots of their digital protest. The Tumblr post that promoted the contest shared an example: Pokémon Hypno is named “Eric Garner” — the African American man who died after being placed in a chokehold by an officer of the New York Police Department.

Winners of the contest were promised Amazon gift cards.

"It's clear from the images shared with us by CNN that our game assets were appropriated and misused in promotions by third parties without our permission," Niantic, the makers of Pokémon Go, said in a statement.

Do Not Shoot Us was one of the 470 pages Facebook removed from the site after it was determined that it was linked to Russian groups attempting to interfere with the 2016 election. Instagram and Twitter have also suspended the group. The website, however, is still active.

Were you targeted by the Russian disinformation campaign? Do you think the Kremlin’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election affected its outcome? Did you win an Amazon gift card? Hit Take Action, tell your reps what you hope to hear during next month’s hearings with the social media giants, then let us know below.

— Josh Herman

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Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(28)
  • Abbi
    10/18/2017
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    So that's how russia supposedly hacked Pokémon go? That's beyond stupid. a complicated plan to name Pokémons after people slain by cops? How does that help Russia? Why the hell would they care?

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  • Captainbinkman
    10/18/2017
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    The first red flag is that this report came from CNN. I personally give very little credibility to that news source. I don’t like Trump and I’m not going to defend him when he does something wrong or says something moronic. What we know to be factual is that the Russians were involved with ads that appeared on Facebook and other media. Ads that supported both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Facebook releases the information and the majority of the ads that were seen, were seen after the election so the “impact” on the election via Russian ads “involvement” is completely irrelevant. That’s like saying a cup of water has significantly changed the amount of water in the ocean. 😵 Please show me what law has been broken and if one has been broken why hasn’t anyone been charged with a crime?

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  • Jerry
    10/18/2017
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    This is from CNN? Fake news organization.

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  • RadicalModerate
    10/19/2017
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    Wow, America. I'm so disappointed with you.

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  • J
    10/19/2017
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    Where’s Pikachu when we need him?

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  • Frankie
    10/18/2017
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    Most of the conservative men will cry ‘fake news’ and stick their fingers in their ears. We are truly insane now and there is no going back

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  • Michael777
    10/19/2017
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    This Russia Scandal is becoming more like modern-day McCarthyism and hysteria than actual truth. I mean, if we keep believing every single accusation against Russia, how long will it take before we believe that Russia can spy on us through our phones or schools? I believe in hardcore facts, not unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. It's like the media is pushing us to go to war with Russia, just like we did with Iraq, which was a huge waste of our time and money.

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  • annette
    10/18/2017
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    Unless they influenced it to remove other Republican candidates I don’t see it did anything for the outcome. We were going to get a Republican President no matter who it turned out to be (unless we had finally got an Independent in which clearly had a chance this year). When is the last time the Democrat or Republicans stayed in office more than 8 years in a row? During the campaign there were ideas they might be meddling so is no surprise if they did.

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  • R. ben
    10/18/2017
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    This is just plain stupid if this is what they come up with. I've holder put waiting for someone to come out with hard evidence and facts. Only for nothing. I quit I will no longer believe or try to believe the Russian colusion narrative.

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  • Sheryl
    10/19/2017
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    I was shocked how many of my relatives believed everything they read on social media during the election. No matter how many facts they were given, they put their trust in fringe websites like Infowars. This is what happens when our populace is not well-informed about the issues. I really can’t blame them though because it’s so frustrating and often feels so futile.

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  • Karan
    10/18/2017
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    Everyone who used it is a Russian spy 😂😂

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  • Christine
    10/19/2017
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    We need to upgrade our cyber security to protect our elections. The djt administration is doing NOTHING to protect our democracy. BOYCOTT facebook & twitter.

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  • Brian
    10/19/2017
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    Haven't you heard this is 'fake news' 😆

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  • James
    10/19/2017
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    I’m sorry, but I don’t think the Russians involvement had a big effect on the election outcome. It was nice to see people posting what I had been saying about the Clinton’s since the mid 90’s. I urge everyone to read “Dereliction of Duty” by Col Robert Patterson. Let me know what you think after reading this book.

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  • Ureeka
    10/19/2017
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    So glad we finally have hard evidence of corruption with Russia by... Hillary and Bill! Time to fire Mueller land Epstein who were complicit and bring charges against the Clintons. Thank GOD for this FBI informant!!!!!

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  • Deirdre
    10/18/2017
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    We all know that there was collusion between trump and Russia. So let’s impeach him

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  • Lenora
    02/15/2018
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    This isn't funny... Russia jerked us. Point blank period. Stop making light of this situation... USA is in deep trouble... USA is starting to turn into 3rd world countries

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  • Rayko
    10/19/2017
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    Omg they know what they are doing. Lol.

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  • Declan
    10/19/2017
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    The moment these candidates were announced the only question people had was if they would vote, not who they would vote for. Nobody changed their mind because of this.

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  • crp6230092
    10/19/2017
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    Based on information from this article alone, it seems like this Russian sponsored group of trolls is doing just that, trolling. This Pokémon go thing that they did doesn’t spread any false information, nor any information at all. It is just some messed up people mocking the death or torture of others. The best thing to do would be to ignore these outcries for attention rather than give them exactly what they want.

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