Details are emerging about a Russian-linked campaign that sought to influence US politics through a wide variety of social media platforms. The group reportedly posed as a member of the Black Lives Matter movement and used common services like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr to spread their targeted content.
The most surprising revelation is that this group also used the popular augmented reality app Pokémon Go to plant divisive messages.
This Russian-controlled group called themselves "Don't Shoot Us" and appears to have been run from the now-infamous Internet Research Agency. First reported by CNN, their Facebook page was one of the nearly 500 accounts that were terminated after their Russian links were exposed. The campaign posted carefully crafted and linked messages across all of their social media channels to keep their viewers coming back and clicking on more articles.
So where does Pokémon Go come into play? The group created a contest whereby people would name their Pokémon after a police brutality victim, such as Eric Garner, and then compete to capture gyms with this Pokémon. Whoever was the most successful would supposedly receive a $100 Amazon gift card.
It's not clear if anyone actually entered or won the contest but this shows just how far Russia was willing to go to create division in American politics.
The group ended up achieving hundreds of thousands of views across their platforms. The Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts have since been suspended but their YouTube and Tumblr pages appear to still be active.