Russia's meddling in U.S. politics and society ahead of the 2016 presidential election keeps getting weirder.
The Kremlin-backed campaign of so-called fake news employed targeted Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google ads to sow division and exacerbate political and racial tensions in the country.
While the tech giants like Facebook, Twitter and Google will be dragged before a Senate and House Intelligence Committee next month for their role in spreading the material, we’re still learning the extent of Russia’s subversive campaign.
A new report by CNN shows Russia even used the previously popular smartphone game Pokemon Go to carry out its insidious agenda.
One Russian-linked campaign posed as part of the Black Lives Matter movement and was titled “Don’t Shoot Us”.
The Don’t Shoot Us YouTube page, which is simply titled “Don’t Shoot,” contains more than 200 videos which all link back to a donotshoot.us website.
The investigation found the website was linked to a Tumblr account which promoted a contest encouraging readers to play Pokemon Go. It specifically encouraged them to play the game at sites where police shootings of black men and alleged incidents of police brutality had occurred.
Users were instructed to give their Pokemon names that corresponded with those of the victims, CNN reported.
A post promoting the contest showed a Pokemon named “Eric Garner” who was the African-American man who died after being put in a chokehold by a New York policeman.
It’s unclear how many people, if any, actually participated in the challenge (which promised Amazon gift cards to the winners) or exactly what the promotion hoped to accomplish.
But it appears it was one of the more bizarre ploys by Russia to stoke division by promoting protests against police mistreatment of African-Americans while simultaneously spreading fear about the movement to other social media users.
The Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts belonging to the Don’t Shoot Us group are currently suspended.