Heads up, GTA Online cheaters - one of your most frequently used excuse just went under. Not that it mattered, since bans cannot be appealed either way, so there's no point in using these excuses anyway. But hey, at least all those Reddit rants will be a bit more varied.
Ever since that rather massive shift in Rockstar's ban policy, reports of false-positive bans have increased immensely across all community sites. Of course, it was blatantly obvious to most readers that the vast majority of all such claims were bull, and the poster did indeed cheat, but the idea that certain program overlays caused bans gained credibility among the community.
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The rather significant change in ban policy came after the hacking issue on PC got cleared up, at least partially, following a particularly messy period. The new policies are pretty draconian, as all bans are final and cannot be appealed. All players have a maximum of two chances, as all second bans are permanent. Minor infractions get you suspended from the game and all of your progress deleted - cash, rank, items, everything - while major infractions result in a permanent ban on the first hit.
When these new rules were enacted, the reaction was more than a little scathing, and things didn't improve too much in the months following. To this day, almost every day a new claim of having been falsely banned crops up, blaming the punishment on otherwise harmless 3rd party programs.
This angle got a lot of traction, with many allegedly legitimate players claiming that Discord, MSI Afterburner, and various screen recording devices tick off GTA Online's anti-cheat watchdog. More and more reports poured in, and quite a bit of literature welled up online pointing to such programs.
We even compiled a guide to best avoid such an event based on which programs were best avoided as reported by fans. However, it now seems that other than the initial week or so after the enactment of the strict policies none of these claims were true anymore.
The official Rockstar Support answer can't exactly be misinterpreted: the use of 3rd party programs with overlays won't get you a false-positive ban - at least not anymore. It seems that the guys over at Rockstar make sure that these programs are whitelisted to prevent banning innocent players.
We meticulously test many common 3rd party programs to ensure that their use does not cause players to receive an unjustified suspension or ban. These include visual overlays/FPS displays like Afterburner and audio chat programs like Discord and TeamSpeak, among many others. As long as the programs being used do not violate our Terms of Service and/or End User License Agreement, they will not cause a ban in GTA Online.
Of course, news of this official stance spread and earned two kinds of reactions. One lauded that finally there's official confirmation that all these posts claiming innocent bans are full of shit, while the others claimed this is a PR stunt on Rockstar's part to wash their hands while not doing anything about the issue.
The truth most likely falls in between these two conclusions. There is in fact overwhelming evidence floating on the internet, mainly on GTA related Subreddits, about Discord and MSI Afterburner actually causing bans. That said, this probably sent Rockstar scrambling to solve the issue, which they swiftly did.
After a few people were actually wrongly banned and voiced their concerns, those who actually did cheat and hack, and were subsequently banned, jumped on this seemingly "safe" bandwagon to... rant angrily on the internet? Don't ask, it's not like someone so dysfunctional that they cheat in a video game will act coherently.
Thing is, the issue has long since been solved, and 3rd party programs no longer cause false-positive bans, and yet these folk keep claiming that they do. In any case, this support response finally put a dot at the end of this all. GTA Online has been suffering one of its biggest controversies due to the new rules about bans, but hopefully this will cause things to quiet down.