Oct 12, 2017

Russians tried to use Pokémon Go to influence election

Niantic founder and CEO, and creator of Pokemon Go, John Hanke. Photo: Manu Fernandez / AP

A campaign with links to Russia, named "Don't Shoot Us," attempted to "exploit racial tensions and sow discord among Americans" by using platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, and even Pokémon Go, according to a CNN report.

Why it matters, per Axios' Sara Fischer: Russia ran a disinformation campaign that was intentionally hard to track. As new evidence emerges of the Russians' paid and organic digital media tactics, we're starting to see that Russian operatives intentionally used various small, segregated campaigns across many automated platforms that often aren't monitored by people — making it harder to get caught in the moment, if at all.

What happened: The Don't Shoot Us website linked to a Tumblr page, at which a Pokémon Go contest was being promoted. Participants were encouraged to play the game "near locations where alleged incidents of police brutality had taken place." CNN reports this could have been a way to "upset or anger" people who lived close to those areas, although the motive is unclear.

Niantic, the company that made Pokémon Go, said the platform itself was not used, but rather users took screenshots of the game on their phone and shared them over other social media platforms: "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."

Go deeper: Read CNN's full report.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 782,319 — Total deaths: 37,582 — Total recoveries: 164,565.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 161,807 — Total deaths: 2,953 — Total recoveries: 5,595.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30.
  4. State updates: Rural-state governors say testing is still inadequate, contradicting Trump — Virginia, Maryland and D.C. issue stay-at-home orders to residents, joining 28 other states.
  5. Business latest: Ford and General Electric aim to make 50,000 ventilators in 100 days.
  6. In photos: Navy hospital ship arrives in Manhattan.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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First U.S. service member dies from coronavirus

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

The Pentagon on Monday announced the death of a member of the New Jersey National Guard who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: It's the first U.S. service member — active, reserve or Guard — to die from the virus, according to the Pentagon. The guardsman passed away on Saturday after being hospitalized for the novel coronavirus on March 21.

Go deeperArrow36 mins ago - Health

Texas oil regulators poised to debate historic production controls

Workers extracting oil from oil wells in the Permian Basin in Midland, Texas. Photo: Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images

Texas oil regulators are likely to hold a hearing in April on whether to take the historic step to curb the state’s oil production amid a global market collapse fueled by the coronavirus.

Driving the news: Ryan Sitton, one of three commissioners of the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees state oil production, told Axios that a hearing will likely be held soon in response to a renewed request earlier Monday from two oil companies to limit production as one way to stem the steep slide in global oil prices.