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What is Shadow Banning? and How to Fix It?

What is Shadow Banning? and How to Fix It?

Nov 24, 2023

By

2 MIN READ

Shadow banning, a term that has been making waves in the digital world, often creates confusion and prompts questions. What is it exactly? And why should it matter to you?   

In essence, shadow banning is the stealthy blocking or limiting of a user's content on a platform, rendering their posts invisible to others without their knowledge. While it may seem like a trivial matter on the surface, it can severely impact one's digital footprint and audience reach.   

Understanding shadow banning, its implications and relevance, and formulating strategies to address it is vital to maintaining a healthy and effective online presence.

What Is Shadow Banning?

Shadow banning is a stealthy form of moderation where a user's posts become invisible to others without the user being informed of this change.



This tactic is mostly used by social media platforms to combat spam and abusive behavior. However, it is useful against certain topics or individuals that the platform deems controversial or undesirable. 

How Does Shadow Banning Work? 

Shadow banning operates subtly, often leaving the user oblivious to their shadow-banned status. When a user is shadow banned, their posts or comments are only visible to themselves. Other users, including their followers, cannot see the shadow-banned user's content. 

On the surface, everything appears normal to the shadow-banned user as they can still post and interact with the platform. 

However, their engagement significantly drops as their posts are not displayed in their followers' feeds or shown in search results. This technique minimizes the impact of harmful content without alerting or confronting the offending user. 

Some Methods Platforms Use for Shadow Banning


• User-level Shadow Banning: 

In this case, all posts and comments from a user become invisible to others. The banned user can still access and interact with the platform normally, but their content is not displayed in their followers' feeds or shown in search results. 

• Post-level Shadow Banning: 

Here, only specific posts are shadow banned based on their content. These posts are hidden from other users, but the rest of the user's content remains visible. 

• Comment-level Shadow Banning: 

This kind of shadow banning makes a user's comments invisible to other people. The user can still see their comments, creating an illusion of normalcy. 

• Hashtag Shadow Banning: 

In this type of shadow banning, posts containing certain hashtags are hidden from searches for those hashtags. This is often used to moderate content related to controversial or sensitive topics. 

• Geographical Shadow Banning: 

Sometimes, content may be shadow banned only in certain geographical areas. This means that users in some regions can see the content while those in other regions cannot.

Signs You've Been Shadow Banned

There are several indicators that you may have been shadow banned. 

Significant Drop in Engagement: 

If your posts suddenly start receiving much less engagement than they used to, it could be a sign that you've been shadow banned. For instance, it could be fewer likes, comments, shares, or views. 

Your Posts Don't Appear in Hashtag Searches: 

Try searching for the hashtags you've used in your posts. If your posts don't appear in the search results, it might be because they've been shadow banned. 

No New Followers: 

If you notice that your follower count has plateaued for an extended period despite continued posting, it could indicate a shadow ban. 

Others Can't See Your Posts or Comments: 

Ask a friend who follows you to check if your posts appear in their feed. Or if your comments are appearing under posts. If they can't see them, you're likely to have been shadow banned. 

Direct Messages Aren't Delivered: 

If your direct messages don't seem to be reaching people unless they're already following you, it could be due to a shadow ban. 

Remember, these are just potential signs. None of them are definitive proof of a shadow ban. Platform algorithms change frequently and in ways not made public, so decreased engagement could be due to numerous factors.

What Are the Reasons for Shadow Banning?

There could be several reasons why a user might find themselves shadow banned. Here are some of the most common ones: 

• Violation of Community Guidelines: 

Every platform has a set of rules and guidelines that users are expected to follow. If you're repeatedly reported for inappropriate comments, posts, or other forms of misconduct, this could lead to a shadow ban. 

For instance, if you're consistently using a hashtag associated with harmful or misleading content, the platform may decide to limit your reach. 

• Suspicious Activity: 

If your account shows signs of bot-like behavior, such as liking or sharing posts at an unnaturally high rate, this could trigger a shadow ban. An example would be if you follow and unfollow a large number of accounts in a short period, which can be seen as spam-like behavior. 

• Content Spamming: 

Posting the same content repeatedly or overusing hashtags can be seen as spam and may result in a shadow ban. For example, if you're always posting the same promotional content with an excessive amount of irrelevant hashtags, this could be flagged by the platform. 

• Mass Reporting: 

If a significant number of users report your account within a short time span, this could lead to a shadow ban. This can occur even if the reports are unfounded, such as in cases of coordinated attacks or misunderstandings. 

• Inactivity or Dormancy: 

If your account is dormant for an extended period, with little to no activity, it could become shadow banned. This is because platforms prioritize content from active, engaging users. 

For instance, if you've taken a year-long hiatus from posting or interacting on the platform, you might find your visibility decreased when you return. 

Remember, these are just possible reasons. The exact cause of a shadow ban can be hard to pinpoint as platforms rarely disclose the specifics of their algorithmic decisions.

Shadow Banning on Different Platforms and How to Fix Them

Shadow banning is not uniform across all social media platforms. Each platform has its unique algorithms and community guidelines that influence how shadow banning is implemented and enforced.

 Let's briefly discuss how shadow banning manifests on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. 

1. Shadow Banning on Instagram

How it Occurs: 

Instagram may shadow ban users for various reasons. This includes violating community guidelines, frequent or repetitive actions (which can be seen as spammy), and using banned hashtags. 

Signs: 

A sudden drop in engagement, followers not seeing your content in their feeds, and your posts not appearing in hashtag searches. 

Resolving the Issue: 

To fix this, users should review and adhere to Instagram's community guidelines. Also, try to limit the use of repetitive hashtags and engage organically without resorting to bots or buying followers. 

2. Shadow Banning on TikTok

How it Occurs: 

On TikTok, shadow banning often results from posting content that violates the app's community guidelines, like inappropriate or copyrighted content. 

Signs: 

Decreased video views, followers not seeing your content, and videos not appearing on the "For You" page. 

Resolving the Issue: 

Users should ensure their content adheres to TikTok's guidelines. Try to refrain from posting anything inappropriate, and regularly engage with their audience in a genuine manner. 

3. Shadow Banning on YouTube

How it Occurs: 

YouTube's version of shadow banning usually involves demoting or limiting the visibility of videos that violate its policies. This is the case, particularly around inappropriate content, misinformation, or copyright infringement. 

Signs: 

A sudden drop in video views, videos not appearing in search results or recommendations, and reduced subscriber engagement. 

Resolving the Issue: 

Creators should review YouTube's content policies and ensure their videos comply. They should also appeal to any content strikes they believe are unjustified and interact with their audience in a community-friendly manner.

Understanding and complying with each platform's specific guidelines and policies is the best way to address shadow banning.

How Do You Avoid Influencers Who Have Been Shadow Banned?

To avoid influencers who have been shadow banned, it's essential to conduct thorough due diligence before engaging in partnerships. Brands should look out for signs of shadow banning, as we have discussed earlier. 

Also, using Influencer analytics tools can be helpful. It can detect any unusual changes in an influencer's metrics, which could indicate a shadow ban. Or better, these tools can ensure that the influencers you connect with are authentic. The following shows the audience insight of @officiallymcconaughey on impulze.ai.



During your initial discussions, it's also a good practice to ask potential influencers about any past or current issues with shadow banning. Ultimately, aligning with influencers who adhere to platform guidelines and engage authentically with their audience is the best way to mitigate this risk.

Takeaway

Shadow banning is a prevalent issue across various social media platforms. It primarily arises from violation of community guidelines. This can be anything from posting inappropriate content to copyright infringement.

Even though there is no sure way of knowing this, the following are some signals that point out that you are being shadow banned. 

• Reduced visibility 

• Decreased engagement 

• Content not appearing in search results or recommended sections 

The best way to combat shadow banning is to familiarize yourself with each platform's policies and abide by them. It's crucial to engage authentically with your audience. This means you should avoid shortcuts like bots or buying followers. 

Be mindful of your online behavior to ensure a positive and respectful social media environment. And finally, stay informed, be responsible, and leverage the power of social media to create, connect, and inspire.

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