Pokemon GO Users Wonder If the Game Could Be a Government Conspiracy

Is Niantic’s hot app really a plot to trick people to exercise?

Last Updated: July 11, 2016 @ 4:37 PM

Pokemon GO — addictive smartphone game or diabolical government conspiracy?

The hot game from Niantic Inc., where GPS technology creates an “augmented reality” in which users can hunt for Pokemon, became an instant worldwide phenomenon upon its July 6 release.

But with that immense popularity have come widespread fears. Early reports have suggested distraction risks for absorbed players, who may wander into traffic or light poles as they hunt for Pikachu and friends.

Then there is the sneaking suspicion that the whole thing may be — yes! — a government plot.

The case for conspiracy has been made by the good folks at Gawker, who know a thing or two about black operations thanks to billionaire Peter Thiel’s successful campaign against the website.

Gawker points out in a mostly tongue-in-cheek analysis that Pokemon GO’s user agreement gives the game access to your location, camera and entire Google account — which is an awful lot of data to hand over to someone you haven’t even met.

Niantic, moreover, is a company founded by John Hanke, a software pioneer who has ties to the U.S. intelligence community. Well, not close ties, necessarily. His previous company, Keyhole Inc., got funding from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which does sophisticated mapping for combat and intelligence functions (some NGIA intel was used in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound). Keyhole was bought by Google in 2004, so Hanke’s links to shadowy G-men in trenchcoats seem to be pretty old — but, still.

But assuming Pokemon GO is a conspiracy, why would the feds bother?

And here is where the knowledgeable mob members of Twitter step up, eager to share all sorts of dubious facts, irrelevant speculation and goofball musings.

Their consensus is clear: Pokemon GO is an app designed to get people up and moving. Because once people are staggering around, gaze fixed on their phones, that’s when the bad stuff really starts.

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