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Part of the problem is that Niantic has not fully disconnected Pogo likes from Ingress likes when determining the cover photo. It used to be that only ingress likes counted so people inflated the ingress numbers. Then ingress stopped syncing photos to pogo until a massive update which also reportedly unlinked pogo and ingress likes. Now you can have a different cover photo for ingress and pogo but the default is still the ingress photo. We kind of already reset all likes to 0 when pogo likes became possible last year. Unfortunately to change a pogo photo you now need it to have more likes than the highest liked ingress photo. Even if all the pogo photos are at 0, if the ingress photo is at 9 ingress likes then you need 10 pogo likes to change the photo.
One thing that Niantic could do, possibly, is to remove all of the likes that came from Ingress accounts below some level... maybe L8, or L4 possibly. That would remove a lot of the bogus likes that came from PoGo players trying to choose gyms.