Have you seen a dramatic decrease in people engaging with you on social media lately? All of a sudden, your recent social media activity disappears. Strangely, it seems as though you do not exist on this website. Is there a problem with this?
Problems can affect any website. Perhaps it would be best to return later. You could also have been “shadowbanned.” When an account gets shadowbanned, it enters a dormant state. In other words, the prohibited user becomes an invisible “shadow” to everyone else.
What Is Shadowbanning?
A “shadowban” occurs when other users cannot see your activity without an explicit ban. In most circumstances, the user can view their content and will be unaware that no others can. It’s a means for spamming without anyone in the community catching on to what they’re up to.
As an alternative to just informing visitors, why do websites employ shadowbans? Once spammers learn of their ban, they will likely try to find ways to avoid it, one of the most common being the creation of a new account.
When someone is banned with a shadowban, they continue to post since they are unaware of it. You might think this is strange, but it works rather well. It’s annoying that most websites and applications claim they don’t engage in shadowbanning.
Perhaps a shift in the website’s search or newsfeed algorithm is responsible for what you believe to be a shadowban. Since social media firms own the underlying algorithms, disclosing their inner workings would not be in their best interest.
Sites That Employ Shadowbans
Now that you know what a shadowban is and how it functions, we can discuss what kinds of websites employ them. It is where things become complicated, as the practice isn’t well known, and most platforms outright deny engaging in it.
But reports of shadowbanning have surfaced on various online platforms. It includes Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Insufficient search results for a given username or hashtag and limiting access to certain functions (such as “likes” or “replies”) are consequences of shadowbanning.
- Shadow banning on Twitter
Twitter stated in a blog post that they “certainly don’t shadowban based on political viewpoints or ideology” and “don’t deliberately make people’s content undiscoverable to everyone except the person who posted it.”
However, they “rank tweets and search results” to “address bad-faith actors.” Twitter will penalize your material if its algorithm determines you are a spammer or troll. Twitter cites the following as indicators that you may be a “bad-faith actor”:
- Whether or not your email address has been verified.
- Whether or not you’ve added an avatar to your profile.
- When your account was first set up.
It’s all about who you follow and retweet. Who unfollows, blocks, follows, and retweets you on Twitter? You should verify your email and add a photo to your Twitter profile to avoid being “shadowbanned.” Don’t bombard folks with commercial messages.
Users may shadowban your account if you post too frequently to promote a product or service. Instead, you should try to make your Twitter posts helpful or at least entertaining. Do not engage in trolling or online fights or be overly combative in your postings and comments.
It’s impossible to know if Twitter has shadowbanned you. You check if your tweets appear in a search using an anonymous browser. Launch a private browsing session and navigate to https://twitter.com/explore.
Try looking up your username. You have not been shadowbanned if your user name appears. A Twitter profile that checks to see whether its user has been shadowbanned. But Twitter may still be suppressing the reach of your Tweets.
You can only find out whether this happens by closely monitoring your participation. Twitter analytics that shows a steep drop in impressions indicate that your reach may have been capped. Reach impairments often endure for little more than a few days.
- Shadow banning on Instagram
It’s annoying to work hard to grow an Instagram following only to have your photos disappear without explanation. If that happens, you could start to worry that Instagram has shadowbanned you. The CEO of Instagram said in an interview that “shadowbanning is not a thing.”
Yet similar to Twitter, this is only partially accurate. Even if Instagram doesn’t manually shadowban your account, the service may choose to obscure your content. The Instagram algorithm filters out some posts.
In particular, the algorithm punishes posts that Instagram deems “inappropriate,” regardless of whether or not they violate Instagram’s Community Guidelines. They warn about sexually provocative material in particular.
The Community Guidelines likewise prohibit spam and materials that promote or glorify violence. “Photos or videos appropriate for a diverse audience” are what Instagram favors, so posting content that isn’t suitable for all ages could get you shadowbanned.
Instagram shadowbans are difficult to detect, but there are certain telltale signs that they may have happened to you. You can first check if you have been shadowbanned by searching for “instagram.com @your user name>” from a private browsing session.
Second, check your Instagram Insights, particularly your overall reach, to determine whether you’ve been shadowbanned. A shadowban may be to blame if your reach has steadily decreased over the past few months.
Don’t upload anything that could be considered a violation of Instagram’s terms, and delete anything that is. Like Twitter, shadowbans on Instagram typically expire after a short time, so no need to worry a lot.
- Shadow banning on Facebook
Facebook’s philosophy for censoring content is “remove, reduce, and inform.” In a nutshell, content that breaks Facebook’s Community Standards will be removed. In contrast, other undesired content (such as false information) may be tagged with a warning.
Shadowbanning may occur in Facebook groups when spammy or deceptive links are routinely posted. You may be subject to a shadowban if Facebook persistently reduces the reach of your content.
Accounts that regularly post “fake” or “harmful” content run the risk of being permanently removed from Facebook. Look for a drop in interaction rates on recent posts to determine if your personal page, company page, or group has been shadowbanned on Facebook.
You may have been shadowbanned if your engagement or impressions have just dropped. The most important thing you can do to prevent becoming shadowbanned on Facebook is to not post any links to content that could mislead people.
Websites with low authority and few inbound and outbound connections that receive many Facebook clicks may be termed clickbait. Facebook’s algorithm deems clickbait are also punished.
- Shadow banning on LinkedIn
The possibility of reducing your LinkedIn content’s reach is not widely known. Like many other social media platforms, LinkedIn enforces community guidelines for its users. LinkedIn’s content restrictions are more stringent than other social media sites.
It is because of the site’s focus on professionals. Content safety, legality, and appropriateness are not enough; they must also be presented professionally. Even while LinkedIn is meant for professional networking, you shouldn’t use it to spam people.
You should never infringe on the personal space or creative works of others. You should also refrain from making sexual advances or harassing other members. If you break LinkedIn’s rules, they may “remove content entirely” or reduce how many people can see it.
However, LinkedIn’s algorithm is quite intricate. Professional and high-quality content may not be enough to garner the attention it deserves. The two most important considerations for LinkedIn content creation are reader engagement and topical accuracy.
- Shadowbanning on TikTok
Short videos may be easily shared on TikTok, making it a popular social network. Regrettably, you can also (sort of) get shadowbanned there. TikTok employs algorithms to rank content. Unlike other platforms, “shadowban” isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Community Guidelines.
Getting on the algorithm’s bad side can reduce the reach of your posts. Your chances of being featured on TikTok For You Page will likewise decrease. TikTok’s recommendation system includes following the Community Guidelines and responding positively to comments.
Avoid content that advocates unlawful activities, promotes violence and hatred, or is otherwise spammy. Examining your TikTok pageviews and “For You” page statistics can tell whether you’ve been shadowbanned. Hashtags can be used in posts and then searched for later.
Top 5 Tips To Protect Yourself from Shadowbanning
Each social media platform has policies regarding what kind of content is allowed and what actions would result in a shadowban. Follow each platform’s policies to prevent being shadowbanned. However, there are noticeable underlying patterns.
- Avoid using restricted hashtags.
- Abide by each platform’s specific rules.
- You should refrain from discussing any illegal matters online.
- Don’t post anything online if you have any doubts about whether or not it’s appropriate.
- Keep an eye on influential people in your field (to see what they’re sharing and how they’re sharing it).
You shouldn’t worry about a shadowban if you play by the rules and contribute stuff others find interesting and helpful. While many sites say, they don’t “officially” shadowban, the reality is that their policies and features limit the exposure of select users’ content.
To avoid a shadowban, always be polite to other users, don’t post spam or inappropriate links, don’t share anything illegal, and stick to the site’s rules. Site-specific procedures exist for lifting a shadowban. Some services demand patience, while others need you to contact support.
At first, you might not even notice that you’ve been shadowbanned. However, a shadowban may work if your impressions or reach has reduced significantly. To safeguard yourself, be wary of posting anything that could violate the site’s or app’s rules and guidelines.
It isn’t very pleasant when you get a shadowban and don’t think you deserve it. Maybe the social media algorithm’s definition of incorrect content differs from yours, or maybe you thought you were having a healthy conversation, but the system deems you a troll.
So, next time beware of posting content on social media to avoid a shadowban!