All of a sudden you notice that none of your social media activity is showing up at all. It's like you don't even exist on the website … strange!
Is it a mistake? Every website suffers from this at times, and the interactive features are often the first to get mixed up. Server maintenance could also be the culprit.
Another possibility is that you may have been “banned in the shadows” (formerly known as ghostbanned).
Shadow-bound accounts are put into a kind of invisible mode. In other words, they become a "shadow" that no one can see.
In this post, we're going to talk more about what exactly shadow prohibition is and how to tell if it has happened to you.
What is shadow prohibition?
With the shadow ban, your posts or activity won't appear on a website, but you haven't received an official ban or notification.
This allows spammers to continue sending spam without other members of the community (or outside the community) seeing what they are doing.
That way, other social media users won't suffer from spam because they can't see it. The spammer will not immediately look for ways to circumvent the ban as they will not even realize that they have been banned.
All of this may sound a bit strange or dodgy. Since many websites and apps deny that they are shadowban, there is no way to know for sure that it happened.
If you suspect a shadowban, a change in the website's search or newsfeed algorithm may be to blame. And since the algorithms are owned by social media companies, it is not in their best interest to make all about them public.
Regardless of whether you were punished intentionally or accidentally, the effect is still the same. Nobody can see your posts.
Websites that use Shadowban
There is no way to get a full list of the websites that shadowban people work on because the practice is not completely open.
However, shadow bans have been reported under certain circumstances, including on websites and apps such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.
Respondents to a survey called "Posting Into the Void" identified four general types of shadow bans:
- A username or hashtag that won't appear in search suggestions
- a decrease in follower engagement
- Certain functions (e.g. likes or replies) are blocked
- a temporary ban that will later return to normal
Here's how you can tell if you've received a shadow ban on some popular social media sites:
Does Twitter actually have Shadowban people? Yes and no.
In a blog post, Twitter claimed that they "do not purposely make people's content undetectable to anyone but the person who posted it" and that it "is certainly not based on political considerations or ideologies".
However, they said they are "rating tweets and search results" in order to "target malicious actors". If Twitter thinks you are a spammer or a troll, your algorithm will penalize its content.
This will prevent Twitter from being blocked by Twitter
Twitter lists these as some of the factors that will help determine whether or not you are a "bad actor":
- Whether or not you have confirmed your email address
- Whether you have uploaded a profile picture
- How recently was your account created?
- Who you follow and retweet
- Those who mute will follow, retweet, and block you
To avoid a shadow ban on Twitter, you should confirm your email address and upload a profile picture.
Don't spam and don't be overly promotional. If you try to sell a product or service and post too much, other users may be blocking your content and shadowing your account.
You should also try to avoid trolling, arguments online, or overly confrontational posts and comments. This can lead to people muting or blocking you.
How to tell if you're in the shadows on Twitter
It's not sure if you received a shadow ban on Twitter. However, you can try using the Shadowban.eu site which claims to be able to detect a Shadowban.
How frustrating is it to work hard on building an Instagram following only to see your posts suddenly stop showing up?
As with Twitter, Instagram's CEO has publicly asserted that "the shadow ban is not a thing," but as with Twitter, this is not entirely true.
While you may not personally be locked in the shade, the algorithm can still hide your posts.
Instagram's algorithm is used to remove certain content. The algorithm penalizes content that Instagram considers "inappropriate", even if the content does not violate the app's community guidelines.
In particular, they mention sexually stimulating content. According to the community guidelines, spam content and content related to illegal activity or violence are also a no-go.
Instagram prefers "photos or videos that are suitable for a diverse audience". Therefore, less family-friendly content may be at risk of shadowban.
How to tell if you have a shadow ban on Instagram
There's no surefire way to tell if you've been banned in the shadows on Instagram, but there are websites out there that claim they can test it out. Triberr is an option.
Shadowbanning on Reddit is a little different from shadowbanning on other social media sites. Until 2015, Reddit openly banned users who broke the site's rules by hiding their posts.
Reddit then announced that the shadowbanning system had been replaced with an account lockout system. Basically, some Reddit reps found the Shadowban tool useful when dealing with bots, but banning real human users without telling them what they were doing wrong was unfair.
However, it appears that the site is still using shadow bans on occasion, with the r / ShadowBan subreddit still active.
According to its official content policy, Reddit can enforce its rules by "removing permissions from or adding restrictions to accounts" and also "removing content" among other things.
How to avoid Reddit receiving a shadow ban
Of course, to avoid a shadow ban on Reddit, you need to follow their rules. One tricky thing with this, however, is that the rules for Reddit actually depend on the subreddit you are reaching out to.
You should read and comment a lot first before submitting your own links. Observe how people respond to different types of submissions within a particular subreddit, and then act accordingly.
This unofficial guide will also teach you how to avoid a shadow ban. Some important points:
- Spam or don't post too many links about your own content (if you also post a lot of other things, it's okay to post a link or two about your own work)
- Do not harass another user or keep voting them
- Don't doxing or encouraging others to doxing (post someone's personal information without their consent)
- Do not post illegal or inappropriate content
- Do not abuse moderators or administrators
How to tell if you have a shadow ban on Reddit
To find out if you have a shadow ban on Reddit, create a post on the r / ShadowBan subreddit. A bot will answer you and let you know if you have a shadow ban.
Even if you don't, the bot will tell you which of your posts have recently been removed (if any).
You can also use a third party tool like Am I Shadowbanned.
TikTok is a popular social network for sharing short videos. Unfortunately you can get a shadow ban there (somehow).
While the term "Shadowban" is not officially mentioned in TikTok's community guidelines, TikTok uses algorithms, as in other social networks, to privilege certain content. If you get on the wrong side of the algorithm, fewer people may see the content you post.
Try to follow TikTok's recommendation algorithm best practices and always follow community guidelines so that more people can see your content and avoid penalties.
Avoid illegal material, violence, hate speech, spam and similar topics.
Check your pageviews and For You page stats to see if you have been banned in TikTok in the shade. You can also use a hashtag and check that your post appears under that hashtag.
Facebook calls its content moderation policy "remove, reduce and inform".
Basically, content that violates Facebook's community standards is removed from the website, while other unwanted content (such as misleading information) on Facebook may be less visible or have a warning label.
If Facebook consistently "reduces" your content, this can be seen as a kind of shadow ban.
The most important thing you can do to trigger a shadowban on Facebook is to share links to fake or misleading information. The content of the website is verified by independent fact-checking organizations.
Facebook also penalizes links from websites that its algorithm considers clickbait. Low authority websites without a lot of inbound and outbound links that generate a lot of clicks on Facebook can be considered clickbait.
Facebook groups, in which a lot of misleading links and clickbaits are often shared, can be blocked by shadows.
If you are concerned that your personal page, business page, or group is in the shade on Facebook, check to see if the engagement levels have changed in your recent posts.
While people don't often think about getting a shadow ban on LinkedIn, the reach of your content can get throttled there.
Like other social media websites, LinkedIn has community guidelines that all members must follow to avoid problems.
Since LinkedIn is a professional website, the content guidelines are even stricter than other platforms. Not only should your content be safe, legal, and appropriate, but also professional.
While LinkedIn is obviously a place for career growth and self-promotion, spam is still a no-go.
You must respect the privacy and intellectual property of others. You should also avoid harassment or unwanted romantic advances towards other members.
If you violate the guidelines of LinkedIn, they can "limit the visibility of certain content or remove it completely".
However, the LinkedIn algorithm is quite complicated. Even if your content is completely professional and of high quality, it may not get the reach you want.
Engagement and relevance are the two most important factors to consider when creating content for LinkedIn.
While it's not exactly a social network, it's definitely still a website where people learn and share content. Can you banish shadows from YouTube?
Well, YouTube shadowbanning was in the news because of popular developer PewDiePie. According to its fans, the Swedish video game YouTuber's channel was fined for searching YouTube.
YouTube's official response was that these are not shadowban channels, but that some videos may be flagged and need review before showing up in searches.
In an interview with Polygon, they said they are "currently working on fixing the problem".
7 ways to avoid a shadow ban on social media
Different social networks have their own opinion on what kind of violations a shadowban deserves. However, we can definitely spot some general trends that are worth mentioning.
If you want to be safe from a shadow ban, follow these guidelines:
- Follow and watch power users in your category (see what and how they share)
- Don't post links or keep copied content
- If you are unsure whether the content is appropriate, avoid sharing it
- Treat others politely and respectfully
- Don't use blocked hashtags
- Avoid posting on illegal topics
You may have no idea you are getting a shadow ban. At least not at first … though over time you can begin to suspect it.
A shadow ban can be frustrating, especially if you don't feel like you deserve one. Maybe you disagree with the social media algorithm, which is inappropriate or not, or you think you had a constructive debate while the algorithm thinks you are a troll.
Hopefully the tips in this guide can help you avoid a shadow ban in the future so that your content can be better used.
What other ways can people help determine if they have been banned in the shadows? Let us know in the comments.