Pokemon GO unbans some "innocent" users

Pokemon GO creators Niantic Labs is probably having a terrible time nowadays. After the initial fever and fervor surrounding the game, the court of public opinion has quickly turned against them. And in its zeal to curb cheating, it may have turned some of its users against them as well. Niantic has recently started slamming the, sometimes perma, ban hammer on "cheaters", but apparently some of those were simply ill-informed but otherwise innocent gamers. Now Niantic is working to reverse some of those bans, while still making sure that real cheaters and hackers get locked out.

Cheating in Pokemon GO, as defined by Niantic, involves any third-party tool that scrapes data off servers and/or automates activities usually performed manually by players, a.k.a. bots. That definition includes add-on maps that are used by players to help them find the right pokemon to complete their collection. Most of these players innocently turn to these services for what they think is a better Pokemon GO experience.

Unfortunately, for both Niantic and the player, innocent or not, the effect of such add-on maps is being equated to a DDoS attack on Pokemon GO's servers, scraping data, hammering servers, and forwarding data to the app or service creators. Niantic explained that such activities not only put unnecessary strain on the servers, they also divert developers' attention from creating new features to plugging up the holes of a fast sinking ship. Hence, they started banning accounts associated with these tools.

It turned out, however, that some players did not, in fact, know the true nature of the add-ons they were using. As is the case in the mobile app world, some developers are less conscientious and do things behind users' backs. And so Niantic is now unbanning such "framed" users, but also leaves them with a warning not to be a repeat offender.

Niantic, however, claims that these innocent users is just a small subset of banned users, who will remain banned. The latter group involves accounts that are outright data scrapers and accounts that used bots and services to remotely capture Pokemon. Hopefully next time, however, Niantic will mind more carefully where the ban hammer falls.

SOURCE: Niantic Labs