Niantic Legitimizes Spoofer
If only some entrepreneurial scientist had the foresight to turn the massive amounts of drama generated by shard events into electricity. Ingress agents had almost gone the whole shard event without any drama. Almost … then Shard 12, The Humanist, spawned in Bangalore, India.
Initially, everything was going great. Xfac plans had been drawn up to send the shard to the target in South America. The shard moved smoothly through India and ran into a snag in Sri Lanka where the agents of one faction decided a change of plans were in order. No longer interested in Xfac, they took charge of the situation and turned the shard towards the target in Taiwan.
Recognizing where this was going, the opposing faction started to block the routes to Taiwan. Integral to their plans was a remote portal between Indonesia and Australia called The Cocos Club.
The first spoofer attacked The Cocos Club at 08:51 IST and dropped the links. A nearby agent recaptured the portal and rethrew the links at 08:54 IST.
The second spoofer attacked at 12:19 IST and at 12:22 IST an agent for the faction trying to move the shard successfully threw a rail across the lanes that were being blocked by the links at The Cocos Club.
Agents attempted to report the spoofers to Niantic. Since the Trusted Reporter program had been put on hiatus five weeks ago, many agents have reported difficulty in getting spoofers banned through the regular support channels. Despite the fact that this involved shards, the account for the second spoofer wasn’t banned until shortly before the shard arrived in Taiwan.
The agents who had attempted to block the shard felt cheated and took to the official community forums to report their problems.
Surprisingly, they received a response from NianticOfficial:
We looked into the actions and timings surrounding Shard #12. We talked to people involved, players who were coordinating efforts on both sides and those in contact with people involved to have determined the following:
The blocking link from Cocos Island to Sri Lanka was dropped at Cocos Island by a bad actor at 06:49am UTC. A “link rail” was then thrown four minutes later at 06:53am UTC by an ENL Agent from Indonesia. With the next jump window occurring at 11am UTC, Sri Lanka ENL already had a plan in place to drop this blocker in Sri Lanka and link the Shard. Sri Lanka ENL Agents arrived and dropped the portal that would have held the link from Cocos Island at 10:22 UTC, even though the blocking link was taken down by bad actors. The shard was linked shortly thereafter to Indonesia, in time for the 11am UTC jump window. Without the actions of the bad actor we are extremely confident that this jump would still have occurred as planned given everything we have been able to verify.
It is a shame the Shard was interfered with, depriving those coordinating and in place the opportunity to execute their plan as intended. However, the outcome in all likelihood would have been the same.
The outcome of this investigation is that Shard #12 will not be moving and will continue to be counted. We acknowledge that bad actors interfered but the evidence is clear that the Shard would have moved regardless with the outcome having been the same.
EDIT: Timezones and match can be hard at times. The link dropped by Sri Lankan ENL Agents in the post previously read 12:22 UTC. That was a typo it was 10:22 UTC. 12:22 UTC was with the +2 timezone of the data collection and we failed to adjust that timestamp accordingly like the others. The link in question was at this Portal. Agents can view COMMs to verify: https://intel.ingress.com/intel?ll=8.618552,81.217259&z=17&pll=8.618552,81.217259
Many agents agreed that one of the most positive effects of the Trusted Reporter program was the efforts that Niantic put into undoing the effects that spoofers had caused. Before the Trusted Reporter program there was no way to restore portals, links, or fields that spoofers had taken down.
By choosing to allow the shard to be scored in Taiwan, and to leave the link established across the lanes blocked by The Cocos Club, Niantic is legitimizing the actions of the spoofers.
Is this a sign of the future of Ingress? For a long time Niantic has publicly disavowed the actions of spoofers in Pokemon Go, but many of their events benefit the spoofers instead of legitimate trainers. Take the event that they are currently running for World Tourism Day. Announced just a day before the event began, the special eggs are limited to specific regions.
A day might not be enough time for a legitimate trainer to make travel plans, but a spoofer?
Earlier today Niantic officially retired [redacted]. Even though Niantic makes claims that Prime is feature complete when compared to [redacted], one area that it is definitely lowering the bar is cheating detection. This reporter has learned that devices that had been banned using [redacted] work again with Prime. In other words, if you had cheated so badly that Niantic decided that any accounts played on your phone needed to be banned, that phone has a new lease on life today.
tl;dr, Niantic is legitimizing the activities of spoofers if it helps their storyline.