Pokemon Go Hysteria Again Highlights How Media Is Happy To Be Gullible And Wrong -- If It Means More Ad Eyeballs

from the First!-(and-wrong) dept

If you spend any time online, you've by now noticed that the internet this week belched forth a tidal wave of incessant chatter over Pokemon Go, Nintendo's new augmented reality game involving scrambling around real-world locations to "catch" collectible, virtual beasts with your phone. The game is by any standard a smashing success, boosting Nintendo's market cap by an estimated $9 billion in two days with the app rocketing to the top of both major app stores. The phenomenon is, frankly, pretty amazing:
As with any massive phenomenon involving tech many people don't really understand (augmented reality in this case), the news wires immediately lit up with all manner of hysteria over the game's impact on the real world, with much of this impact wholly imagined as sites rushed to pursue search trends and ad eyeballs. The media being, well, the media, one hoax website was able to get countless news outlets to parrot all manner of fake stories about Pokemon Go, from claims that brothers were killing brothers to reports that major traffic accidents were being caused by players running out into the middle of traffic to collect creatures that technically don't exist.

An ouroboros of phantoms chasing phantoms.

The media also stumbled all over itself to pounce on claims that the Pokemon Go app was a privacy nightmare, busily reading your e-mail and digging through an ocean of personal data that would any second now be in the hands of nefarious hackers. Most of these reports had to be subsequently walked back with updates after analysts actually bothered to study the app and reporters started (gasp) actually asking questions about just what the app was really doing:
"But in a call with Gizmodo, Reeve backtracked his claims, saying he wasn’t “100 percent sure” his blog post was true. On the call, Reeve also admitted that he had never built an application that uses Google account permissions, and had never tested the claims he makes in the post.

Cybersecurity expert and CEO of Trail of Bits Dan Guido has also cast serious doubt on Reeve’s claim, saying Google tech support told him “full account access” does not mean a third party can read or send or send email, access your files or anything else Reeve claimed. It means Niantic can only read biographical information like email address and phone number."
While the app did appear to be asking for broader Google account permissions than was necessary (on iOS and less frequently on Android), both Google and app-maker Niantic issued a statement noting this was a bug they're busy fixing and that no personal information had actually been accessed:
"We recently discovered that the Pokémon Go account creation process on iOS erroneously requests full access permission for the user's Google account. However, Pokémon Go only accesses basic Google profile information (specifically, your user ID and e-mail address) and no other Google account information is or has been accessed or collected. Once we became aware of this error, we began working on a client-side fix to request permission for only basic Google account information, in line with the data we actually access. Google has verified that no other information has been received or accessed by Pokémon Go or Niantic. Google will soon reduce Pokémon Go's permission to only the basic profile data that Pokémon Go needs, and users do not need to take any actions themselves."
And while a bug that gives broader permissions than necessary is bad, it was far from the "hacker's dream" and "privacy trainwreck" portrayed by dozens upon dozens of different outlets. Meanwhile, most of the data being collected is a fraction of the data being hoovered up and sold daily by your wireless carrier, something routinely forgotten by those laboring under the illusion that privacy in the cellular era still actually exists.

None of this is to say that many of the stories bubbling up amidst the Pokemon Go chaos aren't incredibly interesting. Watching police having to remind players that the laws of the state (and of reality) still apply while playing the game has proven pretty fascinating. Interesting too are conversations about whether African Americans and Muslim Americans will have a decidedly different and potentially unpleasant experience playing the game in the land of shoot first, think later law enforcement. But the most interesting story remains the meta narrative of a press so focused on profitability and being first that it couldn't give a flying Aerodactyl about actually being right.

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  • icon
    TechDescartes (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 10:51am

    Circle of (Virtual) Life

    So TechDirt grabs eyeballs by writing about the media grabbing eyeballs by repeating stories from hoax websites writing about Nintendo grabbing eyeballs with its latest game. And we write comments for the Lula and Light bulbs. And on it goes …

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Grey (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 10:53am

    I'm having a blast watching this rollout and my kids, I used to play Ingress fairly heavily, (Niantic's precursor to Go) and the small scale hiccups of Ingress are in full bloom. (GPS spoofers, Human nature fueled rivalry and asshattery)

    Once or twice a month for a while, you would hear a call go out on the police scanner, detailing a confused/suspicious person wandering around at odd hours with their phone out, the police would investigate, and you'd hear the saga end with "Just another Ingress player".

    Some players get very aggressive about Ingress. Threats and stalking have been issues, (at a low level, the worst behavior gets the most attention, even if it's rare.)

    Tomorrow I'm taking a gaggle of my eldest's friends out driving along the Columbia river, and Forest Park... and wherever else they wish to go on the hunt for rare pokemon.

    The discussions about being aware of your surroundings and other people, cars, property will be nearly constant.

    Something I've learned, I know the names of FAR too many Pokemon on sight, for a person who never played the games.

    Be safe out there folks, Don't want your last thought to be "A wild Train uses Crush.... It's super effective!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 11:09am

      Re:

      Did you mean "deadly effective"?

      From 'death by gps' we are going to 'death by pokemon'. I can't wait to see these stories pop up. Darwin Awards will get quite a few nominees this year!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Grey (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 11:17am

        Re: Re:

        Seriously,

        Every TD reader should be turning on their local scanner stream to enjoy the police running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

        All those kids, (and Childlike adults ;) ) running around OUTSIDE like they own the place... It's a madhouse I tell you A MADHOUSE!!!

        On the up side, as a regular scanner listener, I have to say I'm impressed by how calmly my local PD is handling the situation. Mostly people hear the screw ups that make the news... You don't hear about officers calling out other officers for being idiots over the radio.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeremy2020 (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 11:00am

    The media likes to do other things to like throw around the increase in Nintendo's market cap means the game itself is a success and not people buying into a fad frenzy.

    If you have Nintendo stock, sell it now before people get bored, don't want to pay 2 win or buy a $35 additional device to play.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 11:18am

    Where is the praise?

    Look, I do not play this game, but why are these nuts not going gaga over the fact that it is now getting kids & young adults out into the public where they are expending energy and getting exercise?

    It's just a game, as long as people are not getting harmed it should be welcomed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 11:35am

    I find it disturbing how many people are going gaga for pokemon 20+ years later since it was released outside Japan.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 12:34pm

    Look at that picture full of morons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 12:55pm

    If you're black and want to play Pokemon Go, why not come on down to Lagos Nigeria, Ghana or somewhere you won't get shot for playing an AR-Game¿

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 1:02pm

    eNTERTAINING.

    For all that programming can be..
    A few hackers/advertisers/others..take advantage of it.

    Then our Gov. wishes we did not have ANY privacy protections.

    IF a person/compnay can get Enough BASIC information..
    GPS
    Cellphone tracking
    and abit of other DATA..

    They can SPOT and show every person in the Any nation..
    What an advertising ADVANTAGE.. knowing your name and email, and the city you are in, and your EXACT location..Advert to you every local advert.
    Knowing your location is GREAT for hackers also..and even Thieves.. Getting OTHER info on you, they can KNOW your SS# and Maybe even catch your CC#...
    As a Thief...I would LOVE to know you have left home..as I already KNOW where you live, and the Economy of the area you are in..
    As an Advertiser, I know you are going to get Pizza, and send you adverts for the Other restaurants in the area..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jul 2016 @ 1:24am

      Re: eNTERTAINING.

      Jeez, dude, the valid HTML tags are right there below the reply textbox.
      Maybe try italics instead of Random CAPITALIZATION making YOU LOOK like a timecube READING tinfoil Hatted NUTJOB.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 3:43pm

    Here's one about a stop being full of sex offenders in my area http://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/arizona-news/173079163-story

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous CowHerder, 12 Jul 2016 @ 5:59pm

    More interesting than fake news stories, but not reported.
    Is that the developer, Niantic inc, a spinoff of Google.
    Is headed by John Hanke, who founded and was CEO of Keyhole Inc, acquired by Google.
    Guess which three letter leniency funded Keyhole Inc through In-Q-Tel?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    xtian (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 4:46am

    As usual, this blog kind of sucks on the tech side of things.

    Full-account access is indeed a privacy nightmare. Moreover, claiming it's a 'glitch' is marketing spin, to make it seem like a qa issue. It was not the latter.

    When you develop apps like this for a platform, you are asked what permissions you want and given a very simple menu. Reckless and lazy developers simply don't bother to think about what they actually need and go with full-access or something otherwise over reaching, like how nearly every app wants access to your contacts or some such.

    This is an endemic problem in app development. Sometimes it's done intentionally, because any kind of data could have big returns in the future. Usually it's done because developers don't want to think about it and don't care to think about consequences. There has been a big push for years to educate developers on how to do permissions properly. It's a major security and privacy issue in the software world.

    At the very least, Niantic has been grossly negligent. Apps don't mis-function and accidentally grant full permissions, and marketplaces don't accidentally alter the settings. The permission settings are things the developers set.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Adam (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 5:38am

      Re: As usual, this blog kind of sucks on the tech side of things.

      Be fair. "Glitch" was the word you used, which means unintended and temporary... which would indicate your suggestion of "mis-function." that's why it's a glitch. You're making an incorrect assumption.

      They word they used was "erroneously" which means WRONG. Wrong can be introduced many ways.. some of them are just like you say... intentional or laziness.. they admit it's wrong, without blaming any cause, and they are going to fix it.

      All that aside, I'm already tired of the stupid "game" and I've not even installed it, let alone played it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Cowherd, 13 Jul 2016 @ 6:28am

      Re: As usual, this blog kind of sucks on the tech side of things.

      It's only a "privacy nightmare" because the OS doesn't allow users to deny app permissions they feel are unnecessary.

      The permissions are things the app developers set. But they really should be things the owner of the device sets.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        DanA, 13 Jul 2016 @ 9:15pm

        Re: Re: As usual, this blog kind of sucks on the tech side of things.

        The problem with that is that most users are stupid and unable to differentiate between permissions necessary to make the app functional vs those that are extraneous. And even if those permissions aren't necessary for the app to work they are typically fundamental to the profit model for those 'free' apps so the developer has no reason to permit anyone who denies those permissions to freeload on their product.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jul 2016 @ 3:29pm

      Re: As usual, this blog kind of sucks on the tech side of things.

      Go somewhere else if you don't like it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    afn29129 (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 5:50pm

    Poke and Go.. Crash Car... Nearly die

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    pokemon go, 14 Jul 2016 @ 2:01pm

    Pokemon go trainers - Be careful

    Today I Learned Armed Robbers Used 'Pokémon Go' App to Lure lone players in Missouri, So be careful Pokemon trainers

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    afn29129 (profile), 15 Jul 2016 @ 10:01am

    What a prediction! 2 broke into Tiger exibit for Poke'

    Duo Busted For Breaking into Zoo While Trying to Catch Pokemon


    https://www.yahoo.com/news/duo-busted-breaking-zoo-while-153200541.html?nhp=1

    and... 2 ‘Pokemon Go’ players plunge off cliff.. After climbing thru/over fences.

    http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/2-pokemon-go-players-plunge-off-cliff/


    Stupid is as stupid does.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Krupal variya, 17 Jul 2016 @ 8:41am

    Same in India

    People are gone crazy after Pokemon GO here in India too!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    sabir, 27 Jul 2016 @ 3:11am

    The popularity of the game can be guessed from the fact it has crossed all the top download at the app store. Here are some pokemon go cheat to catch more pikachu online.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    bhangad (profile), 1 Mar 2017 @ 5:28am

    Nice Piece Of Information

    problem with that is that most users are stupid and unable to differentiate between permissions necessary to make the app functional vs those that are extraneous. And even if those permissions aren't necessary for the app to work they are typically fundamental to the profit model for those 'free' apps so the developer has no reason to permit anyone who denies those permissions to freeload on their product.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    desui, 30 Mar 2017 @ 6:18pm

    great

    Look, I do not play this pokemon go game, but why are these nuts not going gaga over the fact that it is now getting kids & young adults out into the public where they are expending energy and getting exercise?

    It's just a game, as long as people are not getting harmed it should be welcomed and visit pokemon go hack no surveys .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    hackmonsterlegends, 26 May 2017 @ 4:18pm

    Be like a boss of Monster Legends hack or Animal Jam hack and cooking fever hack

    Just a functioning web connection is sufficient making use of this cooking fever hack and generate the subscription codes for the pet jam game for cost-free. The only requirement - stable internet connection, since our tool device connects straight to the video game server in order to include sources to your animal jam hack. Cooking High temperature APK aids you consuming time, playing a video game, generate income, including close friends, playing at job.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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