Pokémon have been popular for nearly three decades now, starting with the much-loved anime and expanding into movies, games and other parts of the entertainment industry. Many people born in the millennial generation and generation Z have been captivated by the cute little creatures. The variety of the adorable beasts ensures that there is something that speaks to everyone willing to give it a chance.
This naturally meant that when Niantic announced the release of Pokémon Go in 2016, the hype and excitement was colossal. The app that allows the player to use their mobile phone to emulate being a Pokémon trainer had a whopping billion downloads in its first few weeks on the market.
People had the Pokémon fever, trying to catch more Pokémon, even at inappropriate times such as funerals. There were some incredibly funny as well as some highly tragic accidents where people were unfortunately seriously injured.
For some people Pokémon Go was just a fun fad, and they deleted the app off their phones once they had enough. For others, it became part of a cult lifestyle and for a some it became an addiction. “Gotta catch ‘em all” as the catchphrase states.
If you have had enough of your Pokémon training journey you might have considered deleting the app. This has some benefits over deleting your account which we will discuss alongside with how to delete your account. We will finally discuss the potential cybersecurity risks of having an active vs an inactive Pokémon Go account.
Table of Contents
Deleting the App
Deleting the app is straightforward and easy. It removes the immediate temptation of playing the game while keeping your progress stored on the Niantic servers. This is a good option if you’re not ready to fully let go yet or are just wanting to take a break, to for example prepare for an interview or exam.
This option does however also mean, that some of your information such as your full name, date of birth and e-mail address will remain stored meaning that hackers may be able to access these if they manage a successful cyberattack. Locations where you last played may also be saved meaning your whereabouts may also become compromised.
Deleting Your Pokémon Go Account Permanently
This is straightforward but will take several weeks to complete. Follow the steps below to permanently delete your account. Keep in mind that all your progress and gameplay, alongside your profile will be deleted forever. There is no account suspension option, and you cannot use the same username or e-mail address to sign up for a new account in the future.
Here is how to delete your Pokémon Go account:
- Ensure you know your username and that you have access to the email you signed up with
- Submit a request to delete your account here
- Enter your details and select “Delete my Account”
- Enter a message in the field provided (see image below for an example)
- You will then be directed to a page with some four boxes to tick, only tick the first one if you are deleting a child’s account on their behalf
- You might have to verify that you are not a robot following this … we’re not quite done yet ….
- You will be directed back to Niantic’s support page. You now need to enter your e-mail and find an email form Niantic (your account will not be deleted unless you find this email)
- Once you have found the email respond to it using the information provided (there should be a code)
- Only once you’ve responded, your account on route to permanent deletion
- Note that this will take several weeks
If you have everything in place you can go ahead and delete the app, or you can wait and intermittently check until you no longer can access the account then delete the app.
This process ensures all your data is deleted. This includes personal and game information.
Cybersecurity Considerations and Potential Risks
Although it is obvious that you are giving the app access to your whereabouts by using it there is plenty of other information Pokémon go collects about you if you choose to play the game. This includes:
Information about such as name, date of birth, emails for accounts on Facebook and Google. If you are singing up for a child, Niantic collects even more information such as your exact street address!
User information and device: if you read the fine print carefully you might know the non-surprising facts – that the app can access your in game info and messages. However, you might be surprised to find out that it can also collect your IP address, the type of device you are using and the operating system you are running. Possibly most intrusive however is the app’s ability to know what the last website you visited on your device before starting it. This might give them further information about you such as your type of employment, or where you shop. Just to make matters worse Pokémon Go is also able to collect information on what other apps you have installed on your device.
As you can see this is a total privacy nightmare. It is made worse by the fact that the company is at risk of cyber-attacks and makes a great target due to its large userbase and the type of information it collects. Frighteningly this may also involve hackers being able to view and record video through your device.
Just as a proverbial terrible cherry on top, you are also giving up this information permanently to the company unless you choose to delete your account. This means that they can sell your info to third parties and in case the company is dissolved your information is up for purchase.
If you are over your Pokémon Go playing days, we recommend deleting your account permanently. If not, we hope you have still learned something through this article and that you might consider installing an antimalware or VPN product on your device to help keep you safe. Clearing your cookies and cashes occasionally is also a good idea.
Another tip if you want to keep playing is disabling the reality augmentation feature by blocking access to your camera. This will help keep some of your information safer and save your battery.