Russia's efforts to divide America by meddling in the country's politics and sowing tension among the people included initiatives carried out through Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and even through Pokémon GO.
Previous reports revealed that a Russian troll farm purchased $100,000 worth of Facebook ads and other Russian operatives did the same for Google ads, as a way to interfere with the 2016 presidential election of the United States. Pokémon GO, meanwhile, was used by Russia in a different manner from these two platforms.
Fake Black Lives Matter Movement By Russia
According to an exclusive report by CNN, its investigation into Russia's movements in the United States revealed a campaign that is pretending to be part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The campaign, titled "Don't Shoot Us," used various platforms that include Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, Twitter, and Pokémon GO. CNN believes that the Internet Research Agency, the troll farm linked to the Kremlin, is behind the fake campaign.
A source confirmed with CNN that the Facebook page of Don't Shoot Us was one of the 470 accounts that were taken down from the social network after they were found to be connected to the IRA. Accounts on Twitter and Instagram related to the campaign also remain suspended, but its YouTube channel remains active while its Tumblr page now uploads posts about Palestine.
"Don't Shoot Us" used the various platforms in highlighting cases of alleged police brutality in the United States, as its name is seemingly derived from the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" slogan that stemmed from the shooting of Michael Brown. The campaign may have had the dual goal of spurring African Americans to rise up and protest and aligning the thoughts of other Americans to view black activism as a threat.
Russia Campaign Exploits 'Pokémon GO'
In July 2016, the campaign posted on its Tumblr account a contest involving Pokémon GO. Readers were urged to capture Pokémon in locations where there were alleged cases of police brutality, and then to name the Pokémon with the names of the victims. The Tumblr page promised Amazon gift cards to winners.
The goal and outcome of the contest was unclear, but it may have been created to instigate people near the areas by reminding them of what happened.
Niantic Labs, the developer of Pokémon GO, said that the game was not compromised, nor did it give authorization for such a contest.
It is appalling to see that Russian troll farms went so far as to use Pokémon GO in its mission to divide America. However, what is important now is for the country to grow stronger together amid all of the interference, instead of falling apart as these campaigns want to happen.