Russia Tried to Use Pokémon Go to Sew Discord in America

Russia Tried to Use Pokémon Go to Sew Discord in America

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.

The name of the campaign is "Don't Shoot Us", likely a reference to the "hands up, don't shoot" slogan that became a rallying cry of sorts after Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson.

The group instructed Pokemon Go players to replace the default Pokemon names for the names of victims of police brutality, and then take screenshots of their renamed Pokemons.


The CNN story came after the New York Times reported earlier this month that Kremlin-linked cyber workers promoted content on Facebook that appeared to be of American origin, but was created to sow division on political issues, including the Black Lives Matter movement. CNN uncovered YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter pages for Don't Shoot Us as well. As part of these efforts, the group encouraged its followers to make use of a feature that allows users to rename any Pokemon that they have captured. The Instagram and Twitter account of the campaign have also been suspended, but the group's YouTube channel and website remain active. Winners of the contest would get Amazon gift cards. Game maker Niantic Labs told CNN that users can't actually share information in the game with each other.

"It is important to note that Pokémon GO, as a platform, was not and can not be used to share information between users in the app so our platform was in no way being used". Niantic's last big event, the Pokémon Go Fest, unfortunately turned out to be a huge mess.

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