I’ve seen an image shared on social media several times, discussing the new Pokémon GO game (without naming it), and I’m going to call this one as I see it: I think this is an example of fearmongering.
Here is the image:
Millions of people playing a game made from a foreign company. A game that uses your camera that feeds onto their servers. People exploring sensitive areas to include police stations, restricted zones, military installations etc. If I was plotting a major offensive attack….what better way to gather your Intel than from the nation’s citizens themselves; and mask it as an innocent nostalgic game. Think about it.
Fearmongering is defined as “the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue.” Let’s look at the claims being made.
Millions of people playing a game
This is true. Estimates vary, but as of Monday, July 11, 2016, statistics pointed to the fact that more than 20 million people were playing the game.
made from a foreign company
This is false. Niantic Labs was started in 2010 by American John Hanke as an internal startup at Google. The company is based in San Francisco, California. Niantic Labs was spun off from Google as an independent company in October 2015.
A game that uses your camera
This is true. Although to be clear, it uses your smartphone’s camera (not just any camera), but you don’t actually take any pictures with your camera — you just use it in “preview” mode.
and feeds onto their servers.
The implication in this statement is that the information is going to unknown servers in a foreign (and perhaps even dangerous) country.
As I’ve already established, Niantic Labs is an American company. While we don’t know where their data servers are (no company of this caliber would reveal the physical location of their servers), it would be highly unlikely for their data servers to be in a foreign country. Considering that Niantic started as a part of Google, I would be willing to venture that they have a hosting deal with Google.
People exploring sensitive areas to include police stations, restricted zones, military installations etc.
This is false, and this is the point where a rational’s person truth radar should be pinging.
What police station would allow a person to enter with a smartphone and wander the building under the guise of playing Pokémon GO?
Further, what military installation (or “other restricted zone”) would allow a person to enter with a smartphone and wander around under the guise of playing Pokémon GO? Those types of facilities have very strict security guidelines in place. If they don’t have very strict security guidelines in place, then it’s likely to be a place with no need for such strict security, such as a rural police station with no major intelligence or security risks.
If I was plotting a major offensive attack…
Here comes the fearful unknown hypothetical situation, that “someone out there” would be “plotting a major offensive attack.” Could this be a real possibility? Certainly. But with all of the information that is readily available on the Internet — have you ever fully used Google Maps? — it’s not like there’s a lack of information that’s already easily accessible.
What better way to gather your Intel than from the nation’s citizens themselves; and mask it as an innocent nostalgic game
“What better way…”? I could easily rattle off a handful of ways that are already available — there’s no need to go through the work of developing a game in the hope that people will like it, download it, and use it, especially to the point where enough data is coming in from across the country to make it a valid data source.
And as I mentioned above, current statistics point to more than 20 million people playing the game. The latest population statistics for the United States show a total population of 320 million people. Even if we were to round up the current count of Pokémon GO players to 30 million, that still represents just 9.4% of the population.
Think about it.
Yes, please think about it. And I hope that in taking a minute to truly think this through, you’ll realize the tactics that are being used here. You’re given incomplete and untrue information from an unknown source1 with the hope of prompting an emotional response that will override your rational thought.
If you’re a Christ-follower, remember the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”
Let’s not live in fear, but use the sound judgment that’s been given to us.