Along with Facebook, YouTube, Google, and Twitter, it seems that Nintendo’s most popular augmented reality game was also used to exert foreign influence over American voters last year.
CNN reported yesterday that the mobile game Pokémon Go was involved in an online attempt to sway users’ politics, and potentially to incite racial conflict. According to CNN, a Tumblr page linked to Russia’s far-reaching Internet Research Agency was found to have promoted a contest for Pokémon Go players in July of 2016, and which seemingly sought to mimic aspects of the Black Lives Matter movement in order to engage users sympathetic to that cause.
According to CNN, the Tumblr page encouraged Pokémon Go players to seek out the augmented-reality creatures near the sites of famous instances of police brutality, and to change their user names to those of the police brutality victims. The page also linked to Do Not Shoot Us, a campaign designed to mimic aspects of Black Lives Matter, and which maintained an active presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
Following Facebook’s determination that Do Not Shoot Us was linked to Russian groups seeking to interfere in American politics, the social media giant removed the page, along with close to 470 similar ones.
Since its debut, Pokémon Go has played host to several security threats, albeit falling short of international intrigue. In the past two years, numerous instances of the augmented reality searching game being used to target players for theft or assault have been reported, as in the case of a St. Louis, Missouri robbery “spree” that ended in court this year.
According to CNN, the Tumblr page associated with this latest scheme included a post showing a Pokémon called “Eric Garner.” The character was presumably named for a Staten Island man who died after he was put in a choke hold by a New York Police Department officer who sought to arrest Garner for selling loose cigarettes near his home.
This post also promoted a contest which offered Amazon gift cards for the winners, according to CNN. However, the news outlet said it could not find evidence that anyone actually participated in the contest or received gift cards from the page.
CNN reported that the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts belonging to this group have been suspended. As The Verge pointed out, however, its YouTube and Tumblr pages have remained active, with the latter changing tack to instead post about Palestine.
Source : Forbes