In recent months we’ve heard a lot about how Russian operatives used Facebook and Twitter in their attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
According to a new report from CNN, the Russians attempted to stir up the fan base of Pokemon Go to cause civil unrest.
These efforts were being organized by “Don’t Shoot Us,” a group ostensibly founded to protest police brutality against African-Americans. 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 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. Game maker Niantic Labs told CNN that users can’t actually share information in the game with each other. “Niantic will consider our response as we learn more,” it said in a statement.
The ultimate goal may have been to use these screenshots to get journalists to write about these in-game protests, but CNN apparently found no evidence that anyone actually took Don’t Shoot Us up on the idea.
The group’s efforts were discovered as part of an investigation into Russia’s use of Facebook to meddle in the election. Facebook has identified around 470 accounts and pages linked to Russian operators, and shared the results of its investigation with others in the industry, including Twitterand Google. This led to the discovery that the same groups also spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on Google and YouTube, and maintained some 200 accounts on Twitter.