Ingress: 3 Strikes and Bye-Bye

On July 22, 2019 Ingress adopted a three strike policy for policy enforcement. The announcement started with:

As part of our commitment to fair play, we will soon be adapting our Ingress discipline policy and enforcing a three-strike policy for violations to our Terms of Service and/or Ingress Community Guidelines. This policy provides offenders with a series of disciplinary strikes that gradually increase in severity, offering multiple opportunities for players to change their behavior.

The announcement then proceeds to answer a common question that was probably sitting in the back of everyone’s mind. What about the account that was purchased and used to specifically spoof a portal? Niantic as mentioned below will skip the strikes for those truly nefarious accounts and head straight to termination.

Keep in mind some violations may require immediate account termination without three strikes or result in your inability to post messages to the in-game COMM.

We had an idea this change was coming, because Wizards Unite and Pokemon Go both already had such a policy. Additionally, the 2.27.2 release of Ingress Prime majorly hinted at the change introducing the following features into the code base:

private bool warned;
private bool warningAcknowledged;
private bool suspended;
private bool suspensionAcknowledged;
private long warningExpirationTimeMs;
private long suspensionExpirationTimeMs;

Which basically means, you can be warned and suspended. You have to acknowledge them both in Prime and they last a certain amount of time. Thankfully we don’t need to guess, because the official announcement lists the strikes:

  1. Strike 1 – Warning
    • If this strike is issued, an agent will see a warning message in their Ingress Scanner informing them that Niantic has detected a violation on their account.
    • The agent must acknowledge this warning in the Scanner before they can continue playing Ingress.
    • This warning will last for approximately 7 days.
    • This warning will present itself on every login, until the time is over. [source]
    • After the warning has expired, any further violations will result in additional escalated punishments.
    • The agent will not receive another warning.
  2. Strike 2 – Suspension
    • If an agent account is issued a second strike, they will temporarily be unable to log into or play Ingress.
    • This will last for approximately 30 days.
    • After that period, the agent will need to acknowledge a warning for their account access to be restored.
    • After the suspension, further violations will result in permanent account termination.
    • You will not receive another warning or suspension.
  3. Strike 3 – Termination
    • If an agent receives the first and second strikes and continues to violate the Terms of Service or Ingress Community Guidelines, their account will be permanently terminated.
    • They will have the opportunity to appeal this decision if they believe this action has been taken in error.
    • Niantic will respond to your appeal after a complete investigation of their account and the situation.

So basically breaking the Terms of Service or Community Guidelines might land yourself a strike. Those that live to commit the most egregious actions will still land themselves with an instant termination.

Intel Map Suspended Message

This announcement then explains that access to Scanner [REDACTED] will be disabled until the punishment has ended. This doesn’t make much sense, but seeing how prime was updated to supported suspensions & bans – my guess is that the old code base of Scanner [REDACTED] cannot support the notion of warnings or suspensions.

If you receive any of the above punishments on your account, your access to Scanner [REDACTED] will be disabled and you’ll be unable to play until your punishment has ended. You must use Ingress Prime to read and acknowledge any punishments on your account. 

Finally the post ends with why Niantic has decided to carry out this.

We are committed to making Ingress a fun and safe experience for all players and for everyone in the real world where Ingress is played. We are implementing this change to improve the experience for all and will continue to evaluate the success of and adapt this enforcement policy to build upon this foundation.

So I decided to peek at the forums and see what others had to say. Some topic titles caught my eye:

  • Cheaters Suspended, Legit Players Terminated
  • Got “Access Suspended” for no reason.
  • Account Terminated: There must be a mistake!
  • Changes in policy enforcement.
  • Banished for?

Is every single person who was banned and appealing innocent? No one knows but Niantic, but it was interesting to see.

We will continue to follow the policy changes as they evolve.