Russia Used Pokémon Go In Efforts To Meddle In 2016 Election

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Russian operatives tapped into Pokémon Go's fanbase in an effort to meddle in the 2016 election, CNN reports.

One Russian-linked campaign posed as part of the Black Lives Matter movement and used Pokémon Go (in addition to social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr) to exploit racial tensions, according to the outlet.

The efforts were organized by the group "Don't Shoot Us," which was supposedly founded to protest police brutality against the Black community. It was likely run by a Moscow-linked "troll farm" Internet Research Agency (IRA).

The group reportedly encouraged its followers to use a feature that allows users to rename any Pokémon they have captured. Specifically, it encouraged users to replace the default Pokémon names for the names of victims of police brutality, and then take screenshots of their renamed Pokémons.

"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," Niantic, the makers of Pokémon Go, said in a statement provided to CNN. "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."

The "Don't Shoot Us" Facebook account was removed after the social media platform determined it was linked to the IRA. The campaign's Instagram and Twitter accounts have also been suspended, but its YouTube channel and website remain active.

The Pokémon Go news follows on the heels of a report that the House Intelligence Committee plans to release the Facebook ads purchased by Russian groups during the 2016 presidential election.