Niantic has updated its Terms of Service to warn Pokétrainers playing the game from the comfort of their home using bots, cheats, and GPS-spoofing jailbreaks that they will be permanently banned from the app. Here's how to avoid a ban – and what to do if Niantic has caught you.
Previously, Niantic handed out so-called 'soft bans' to players caught hacking the game in their quest to catch 'em all, which amount to being barred for roughly 12 hours.
However, a recent update to the game's TOS suggests that the company is now looking to crack down further.
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In a new note posted to its support pages, Niantic clearly stipulates that accounts will now be "permanently terminated" for TOS violations:
"Your account was permanently terminated for violations of the Pokémon GO Terms of Service. This includes, but is not limited to: falsifying your location, using emulators, modified or unofficial software and/or accessing Pokémon GO clients or backends in an unauthorized manner including through the use of third party software.
"Our goal is to provide a fair, fun and legitimate game experience for everyone. We will continue to work with all of you to improve the quality of the gameplay, including ongoing optimization and fine tuning of our anti-cheat system. If you believe your account has been terminated in error incorrectly, you can appeal that termination through this form. For privacy reasons, please do not post appeals on social media."
It's not clear how Niantic intends to clamp down on cheating, though some enterprising Redditors are endeavouring to get deliberately 'permabanned' in a bid to uncover the process and see if it's being carried out at IP level.
To our eye, it looks like the bans are mainly targeting people using bots and emulators, and that users of third-party tracking maps and apps are safe enough.
Got banned? As well as pleading your case directly to Niantic via the link above, it appears there's nothing stopping you from creating a new account using a different user name and email address – depending on whether or not IP addresses are being blocked, you may have to use a different device or computer.
Whatever the case, it seems best to exercise caution until more is known about what exactly Niantic is sniffing out.
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Have you been banned from Pokémon Go? How do you think Niantic is cracking down on Pokécheats? Let us know in the comments below.