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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.

Go deeper

13 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.