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My friend has experienced a very strange issue with Pokemon Go on separate occasions, initiated randomly while on foot. It started with an unjustified softban that makes Pokemon and Pokestops unavailable (blank tracker). GPS drift could have been the cause, though friend's device is usually quite accurate in this regard.

The softban lasted for about 60 minutes after/during which a shower of repeated captcha prompts occurred. On several occasions there were 10+ of such captchas one after another, despite them being solved correctly. The time between two separate events was no more than 5 minutes and could happen after a couple of seconds. I was present and we chose captchas that were non-ambiguous, such as "choose tiles that contain fireworks", etc. The softban persisted through the entire captcha parade, which then ended for no apparent reason. Nothing helped before that, neither restarting the Android app nor the phone.

Was there ever a known issue with the game that would explain such behavior? Should this even be considered as an issue (is it normal)?

I must say that, in retrospect, it sounds like an exploit used to identify bots as humans by employing an unaware human for the job.

It happened again yesterday during a walk. Luckily it ended after two consecutive captchas this time. Friend said something similar has happened at least five times so far. What is interesting is that my phone has terrible GPS drift and this never happened to me.

We took screenshots of most of the captchas. It started again during a walk at 17:30 and ended an hour later. There were eight retries (17:30, 17:32, 17:34, 17:37, 17:41, 17:41, 18:29 and 18:30). Friend has NEVER cheated in any way, never even had a gym fight. It seems to be getting worse... Below images are in a left to right sequence exactly as they occurred (text is localised, click for full-size images):

captcha set 1 captcha set 2 captcha set 3

Most captchas were "select squares with street signs" and a couple of "select images of bodies of water, such as lakes and oceans", "select images of store displays" and "select images with columns". I'd argue that all of the captchas were solved correctly.

  • This seems very strange to me. I've never seen a captcha while playing, and the way the Magnemite captcha is improperly stretched/scaled seems suspect. Are you sure this is a legit version of the game? Was it downloaded and installed from a reputable app store (Google Play, Amazon Appstore, etc)? Were the stats on the store page appropriate (number of downloads, reviews, publisher name, etc)? – Unknown Zombie Mar 8 '17 at 21:19
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    @UnknownZombie, the app is from Google Play, updates regularly, currently at 0.57.4. I have had the same captcha appear on my phone, but it ended on first attempt. I think the app is legit. – predi Mar 9 '17 at 6:53
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Maybe your friend has an app that is making some strange things happen while Pokemon Go is running and the Pokemon Go app thinks that that's a bot. Try to uninstall some apps or blocking some services.

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    The phone in question has a minimal number of user apps installed (stock ROM + less than 10 apps). A small subset of apps found on my own phone, which does not exhibit this behavior. While plausible, I do not think this is the cause unless a system app in MIUI 7.5 is the culprit. – predi Mar 8 '17 at 17:22

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