Well, this is insane. In addition to creating fake Facebook and Twitter accounts, creating events, and buying Facebook ads to sow division and influence the 2016 election, Russian agents apparently also created a Pokemon Go "game" of sorts that was meant to promote the Black Lives Matter movement. CNN has this exclusive story, and they report that the "Don't Shoot Us" campaign on Facebook, which has been linked to the Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency, offered special rewards for Pokemon Go players who went to the real-life locations of police brutality or officer-involved shootings and took screenshots of Pokemons named for victims like Eric Garner and Michael Brown in Pokemon "gyms" nearby. Users were told they could win Amazon gift cards if they emailed the screenshots to the game's host.
As you may or may not remember, Pokemon Go was a big deal for about two weeks in the summer of 2016.
It's unclear what the Russians were trying to do with this contest other than to raise greater awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement and perhaps aggravate white conservative voters who believe the movement is divisive or has something to do with killing law enforcement officers.
The "Don't Shoot Us" campaign, also shortened to "Don't Shoot," had a coordinated Facebook page and YouTube channel, and combined they had hundreds of thousands of likes and views, though it's unclear to what extent anyone actually participated in this Pokemon Go contest.
Niantic, the SF-based makers of Pokémon Go, issued a statement to CNN saying, "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. It is important to note that Pokémon GO, as a platform, was not and cannot be used to share information between users in the app so our platform was in no way being used. This 'contest' required people to take screen shots from their phone and share over other social networks, not within our game. Niantic will consider our response as we learn more."