There is a weird thing that has been going around social media called shadowbanning. Suddenly, your engagement drops, you lose a bunch of followers, and your posts don’t show up in hashtag search results. People have wondered why this keeps happening and how they can prevent it. If you’ve ever wondered what is shadowbanning, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will get to the bottom of what shadowbanning is and the actions you can take to try to avoid it.
What is Shadowbanning?
Shadowbanning happens when a social media platform blocks a user’s account in a way that the user doesn’t know it is happening.
When this happens to your account, your content doesn’t appear on anyone’s feed unless they already follow you. This means your visibility on social media platforms is significantly reduced. So naturally, your engagement rate can and will likely plummet. Marketers, content creators, and influencers have been the biggest opposers of the shadowban. Decreased engagement and a loss of followers can have a huge impact on their business or their ability to produce results for a business client.
Why Does Shadowbanning Happen?
Shadowbanning has been around since social media began in 2006. In more recent years, it has become a point of contention on Instagram and other social media platforms. But why does it happen? Here are some reasons why Instagram might shadowban an account:
- Your account gets reported for violations
- You use broken or banned hashtags
- Using bots or services that violate the social media platform’s terms and conditions
- You have large surges of activity which could indicate fraudulent activity
- You are abusing Instagram’s daily or hourly limits
- Using Instagram pods
Most people don’t know that there is a daily action allotment on Instagram. There is a limit to how many actions you can take on Instagram per hour and day. This includes, but is not limited to, the number of posts you like, the number of comments you post, and the number of accounts you follow or unfollow.
Sites That Shadowban
There’s not a full list of sites that shadowban people, but it has been reported under certain circumstances on sites and apps like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and others. There are four types of shadowbans according to the website Posting Into the Void:
- A username or hashtag not showing up in search suggestions
- A decrease in follower engagement
- Blocking of certain features (likes and replies)
- A temporary ban that reverts back to normal later on
How to Tell if You Are Shadowbanned on Twitter
Twitter claims that they “don’t deliberately make people’s content undiscoverable to everyone except the person who posted it”, and they “certainly don’t shadowban based on political viewpoints/ideology.” Twitter lists these as some factors they use to tell if you are using your account in bad faith which could result in Twitter shadowbanning:
- Whether or not you have confirmed your email address
- Whether you have uploaded a profile picture
- How recently your account was made
- Who you follow and who you retweet
- Who mutes, follows, retweets, or blocks you
You can also use a website called Shadowban.eu, which is a website that claims to be able to detect a shadowban.
How to Avoid a Twitter Shadowban
You should make sure that you confirm your email address and upload a profile picture. Never spam anyone and don’t be overly promotional. If you post too much because you are trying to sell a product or service, other users might block your content, causing a Twitter shadowban on your account. You should also avoid trolling, getting into online arguments, or being too confrontational in your posts and comments. This can lead to your account getting muted or blocked. Twitter shadowbanning can be a tough thing to recover from.
How to Tell if You Are Shadowbanned on Instagram
Like with Twitter, Instagram claims that “shadowbanning is not a thing,” but like Twitter, that’s not entirely true. While you personally might not be shadowbanned, the algorithm could still be hiding your posts.
If you want to figure out whether Instagram shadowbanned you, try using a different account. Create a new post and use a few unpopular hashtags. Then you can ask a friend to use their account and unfollow yourself. Search for the hashtags that you put and see if your post pops up in results – either in top posts or recent posts. If they don’t pop up, you might be part of an Instagram shadowban.
You could also use an Instagram shadowban tester. There are a lot of tools available like Tribeer. Just key your account name into Tribeer’s shadowban analyzer and it will show you which hashtags are not showing your posts.
How to Avoid an Instagram Shadowban
- Follow all the Instagram community guidelines
- Avoid bots or services that aren’t official Instagram partners
- Don’t spam similar hashtags on all your posts
- Don’t use banned hashtags
- Do not frequently follow and unfollow a bunch of accounts
- Don’t post illegal or inappropriate content
- Don’t harass or spam other Instagram users
- Refrain from buying followers
How to Tell if You Are Shadowbanned on Reddit
Reddit is a little different from other social media sites in terms of shadowbanning. Up until 2015, Reddit openly shadowbanned its users who broke the site’s rules by hiding their posts. Reddit then announced that the shadowbanning system had been replaced with an account suspension system.
Basically, some Reddit staff thought that the shadowban tool had been useful for dealing with bots, but that banning real human users without telling them what they did wrong was really unfair. But, Reddit still seems to use shadowbans, since their r/shadowban subreddit is still up and running.
You can find out if Reddit is shadowbanning you by making a post in the r/ShadowBan subreddit. A bot will respond to you, letting you know that whether you are or not. Even if you are not, the bot will tell you which posts of yours have been removed recently (if any).
How to Avoid a Reddit Shadowban
- Don’t spam or post too many links to your own content (if you post a lot of other things too, posting one or two links to your own work is OK)
- Do not harass or downvote another user
- Don’t dox other people or encourage doxxing (which is posting someone’s personal information without their permission)
- Do not post illegal or inappropriate content
- Don’t abuse moderators or admins
How to Tell if You Are Shadowbanned on TikTok
TikTok is a newer and popular social network for sharing short videos. Unfortunately, TikTok can shadowban too. While there isn’t a full mention of shadowbanning in TikTok’s community guidelines, TikTok uses algorithms to privilege certain content. If you get on the wrong side of the algorithm, fewer people might be able to see the content that you put out.
To check if you have been shadowbanned on TikTok, look at your pageviews and “For you” page stats. You can also use a hashtag and see if your post shows up under that hashtag.
To avoid penalties, try to follow best practices for TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, and always follow the community guidelines. Stay away from illegal material, violence, hate speech, spam, and other similar topics.
How to Tell if You Are Shadowbanned on Facebook
Facebook says that content that violates Facebook’s community standards will be removed from the site, while other undesirable content (such as misleading information) may be less visible or have a warning label placed on it. If Facebook is always “reducing” your content, this can be considered a type of shadowban. The main thing you can do to trigger a shadowban on Facebook is to share links to fake or misleading information. Facebook can also penalize links from websites that its algorithm considers to be clickbait.
How to Tell if You Are Shadowbanned on LinkedIn
Most people don’t think about LinkedIn shadowbanning, but it is possible for them to throttle your content’s reach. LinkedIn also has community policies that all members need to follow. LinkedIn is a more professional website, so its content policies are even stricter than other platforms. Not only should your content be safe, legal, and inappropriate, it has to be professional too. LinkedIn is a place for career growth and self-promotion, so spamming people is still a no-go. You have to respect others’ privacy. Try to avoid harassment or unwanted romantic advances toward other members.
7 Tips to Avoid Getting Shadowbanned on Social Media
Here are some general trends to follow on any social media site:
- Always stick to the terms of service
- Follow and watch power users in your category (see what and how they share)
- Don’t post links or copy-pasted content over and over
- If you’re unsure if the content is appropriate, avoid sharing it
- Treat others politely and respectfully
- Don’t use banned hashtags
- Avoid posting about illegal topics
All in all, most people don’t even realize that they are being shadowbanned. What you have to do is protect yourself by being careful with what you post. Make sure that what you post is not against the terms and conditions of the app that you are using. Try to avoid spamming other people, starting fights with and trolling other users, or posting things that might be considered inappropriate.
- What is the meaning of the word “shadowban”?
- How is shadowbanning different on different social media platforms?
- What are some websites that you can use to check if you are shadowbanned?
- What is shadowbanning on TikTok?
- Why is shadowbanning a thing?