A Russian-linked account masquerading as a Black Lives Matter activist group called Don't Shoot Us apparently had the "dual goal of galvanizing African-Americans to protest and encouraging other Americans to view black activism as a rising threat," CNN reports. In addition to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts (all of which are now suspended), Don't Shoot Us carried out its agenda by way of a Pokémon Go contest in which followers could allegedly win Amazon gift cards by training Pokémon near locations where police brutality took place.
"A post promoting the contest showed a Pokémon named 'Eric Garner,' for the African-American man who died after being put in a chokehold by a New York Police Department officer," CNN writes, adding:
It's unclear what the people behind the contest hoped to accomplish, though it may have been to remind people living near places where these incidents had taken place of what had happened and to upset or anger them.
CNN has not found any evidence that any Pokémon Go users attempted to enter the contest, or whether any of the Amazon Gift Cards that were promised were ever awarded — or, indeed, whether the people who designed the contest ever had any intention of awarding the prizes. [CNN]
Google, Facebook, and Twitter have all reported that their platforms were used by Russian agents to influence the 2016 presidential campaign. "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," added Niantic, the company that made Pokémon Go.
Don't Shoot Us remains active on YouTube and Tumblr, where it now reportedly posts about Palestine.