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Russia-Linked Campaign Targeted Pokemon Go

13 October 2017

CNN reported Thursday that Russian election meddling used Facebook, Instagram Twitter, YouTube and the popular game Pokémon Go in ways to create friction in the United States before last year's election.

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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. The page was one of hundreds shut down after Facebook realized their connection to the IRA. CNN's report includes a screenshot from a Tumblr page with the contest rules, which shows an image of a Pokémon that's been named Eric Garner, the African-American man whose 2014 death after being placed in a chokehold by a New York City Police Department officer was caught on film. The goal of the accounts appeared to be highlighting police brutality to inspire further protests by black Americans and increase the fear of those protesters by white Americans. It encouraged users to find Pokemon in places where police brutality had happened and then to rename their Pokemon after the victims. This week, Niantic announced that it would be hosting a Pokemon Go AR photo contest, challenging players to take awesome pictures using the game's AR mode and post them on Instagram.

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It's not clear if anyone actually entered or won the contest but this shows just how far Russian Federation was willing to go to create division in American politics. An email address associated with the Pokemon Go contest was also used to reach out to reporters to promote protests and give interviews. Instead, it appears to be a blog that only posts pro-Palestine content. Read the full CNN investigation here.

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Russia-Linked Campaign Targeted Pokemon Go