Update: NianticCasey-ING confirms that AR scans have nothing to do with the removal of PokeStops or Gyms in Pokemon Go.
Previous Story: It appears that some PokeStops and Gyms are getting removed from the game. Today it might be a Gym near you and tomorrow could be a PokeStop.
Rumors are circulating that the Mapping tool is helping Niantic decide which PokeStops and Gyms are going away. This is sad because these two features were the main ways of interacting with the game. If a favorite/ near PokeStop vanishes, you might need to go to the nearest, which is not always near you.
We saw this being discussed in a Pokemon GO subreddit thread. This thread confirms the new situation, and has urged players to stop using the AR Mapping Tool, as Niantic is supposedly using this one to remove the Stops that might seem that are “misplaced” or “fake.” The same goes for Gyms.
The AR Mapping tool that Niantic is trying to push you to use through Field Research is actively being utilized to remove PokeStops and Gyms. When you scan a location and Niantic deems it to be “misplaced” or “fake”, they have started to quickly delete them. I just had a fair bit of gyms and stops removed from my area and my local Discord group is reporting the same thing en-masse. Niantic is using the players to do their own legwork in determining a Stop/Gym’s validity, and then using it against us. This applies to both new Stops/Gyms, as well as older established ones that could have been there for a year or more.
Be warned, be aware. Stop scanning and giving up your data so Niantic can make the game harder for you to have fun playing.
It is very disappointing and discouraging to see your favorite PokeStop or Gym getting removed from the map, so we do hope that Niantic will soon come up with a confirmation or statement.