Niantic has recently come up with a new method for punishing users who cheat in Pokémon GO. Although, it's not like previous methods they have come up with. With this latest one, you won't even be able to tell that you've been affected. It is being called a 'shadow ban' and reports started coming in as early as Saturday regarding this ban taking effect. Although, it seems to only be affecting bot accounts. It also appears that bot accounts have continued to grow larger as the game has continued to grow more popular, so Niantic has now created an automated banning system to bring the game back to its original fairness. It's not like any ordinary ban though. The account won't just disappear or stop working all of a sudden, instead, you'll most probably find that you'll continue to catch common Pokémon such as Rattata's or Pidgey's as the ban seems to restrict catching anything that isn't common.
This new tactic seems to only target illicit bot accounts. GPS manipulation (spoofing) is something that is seen often with Pokémon GO and the shadow ban will unfortunately not reach those users. However, it is unknown as to whether this will remain the case, or whether Niantic will stretch this ban further and target users who use GPS manipulation as well. Niantic has also mentioned that it is aware of spoofing and will look to tackle it accordingly. Bots seem to be a never-ending problem for Niantic and it's not quite clear yet whether this new shadow ban will actually work.
It's also unclear as to what is tipping off Niantic about which accounts are not legitimate. This new ban could be seen as a very smart move. It lets its users know that they will continue to keep the game on a fair playing field, although not every bot account is being flagged up. It's possible that many of the existing bot account users will just create new ones in order to bypass the rules and regulations that Niantic has set out for its users. The aim of Pokémon GO is to get up and get moving in order to catch Pokémon that are in the local or surrounding area. Not only is it a fun real-time game, it also helps to promote fitness, as a major part of the game is to walk certain distances to hatch eggs that may contain rare Pokémon. However, this is something that bot accounts avoid, and Niantic seems keen on doing all that they can to make sure players abide by this standard.