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What Is Shadowbanned? Explaining What Shadow Banning Is (In Simple Terms) On Social Media!

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What is Shadowbanned: Social Media Shadow Ban & How To Fix It - One Search Pro Digital Marketing Agency Malaysia

As a business owner or someone who manages social media pages, there are many challenges to face. Most of the time, your objective is simple enough.

Raise brand awareness and gain followers for your social media content.

However, if you suddenly find that all your efforts at social media marketing is bringing in little to no fruits, then there might be one possibility.

Your social media account might have been shadowbanned.

The question is: What is shadowbanned?

What is Shadowbanned Table of Contents | What is Shadowbanned | One Search Pro Digital Marketing

In this article, we will look at what being shadow banned means on the different top social media sites, and how you can check whether your account has experienced a shadowban.

What Does Being Shadowbanned Mean | What is Shadowbanned | One Search Pro Digital Marketing

What is Shadowbanned? What Does It Really Mean by Shadowbanning?

Shadowbanning is when a social media account of yours doesn’t show up for public view, including its posts and activities.

As implied by its name, the platform administrators usually don’t notify you that your account has been hidden or restricted.

Shadow banning is not an official phenomenon, meaning that there has thus far been no official statement from any platform acknowledging that such a thing exists.

Instead, what we have are stories from many account holders, describing a downward trend in interactions and visibility.

A shadowban test that they perform then confirms that their post and account details cannot be seen, either by the public, their followers, or both.

As a business owner who is concerned with reaching your target audience on any social media, this is the last thing you want to happen.

The phenomenon of accounts going invisible have several possible causes. The most common cause is that the account in question may have broken some regulations set by the platforms.

For example, the account may be involved in some type of spamming or using too many unrelated tags.

Spamming Hashtags on Social Media Platforms | What is Shadowbanned | One Search Pro Digital Marketing
Some suggest that spamming hashtags can cause you to be shadowbanned. Source: Instagram

Other times, it may be due to technical errors, such as the social media’s algorithm failing to recommend the account and its content to followers, due to changes or bugs.

The causes of shadow banned users have never been officially addressed by the operators of the social media platforms, thereby leading to much speculation on what causes them.

Although their causes may be unclear, what we know for sure is how you can check if your account is experiencing it.

It is important, therefore, not only to know what it is, as well as how to know if you’re shadowbanned.

Shadowbans on Social Media: What Are The Signs of Being Shadowbanned?

Have you ever experienced strange downtimes in your interactions and views?

Well, knowing what is shadow ban and what platforms practice shadowbanning will help you check for it regularly and be more aware of its presence and effects on your social media marketing efforts.

However, with that being said, we have to keep in mind that the entire concept of what’s shadow banned rests on reports of netizens, rather than official statements or actions from social media platforms that could serve only as reverse SEO reputation management tactics.

Effective Rule of Online Reputation Management | What is Shadowbanned | One Search Pro Digital Marketing
The eight effective rules of online reputation management. Source: SemRush

Truth is, almost all the top social media platforms have users reporting about being shadowbanned, but the platforms themselves have either denied it or kept mostly quiet on the subject.

It goes without saying that this has led to many people doubting the existence of shadow banning.

However, there is no doubt that the following events have been reported by account holders across many platforms:

  • A sudden decrease in engagement, especially page views
  • Unable to find your own account when searched or your specialized hashtags
  • Prevented from making posts or contents
  • Unable to interact with other accounts or send messages anymore
  • Complete suspension of account which can be/is reversed later on
  • And several more.

To name a few of these common platforms where users have genuinely reported this phenomenon, they include Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Youtube, and LinkedIn.

Many of the reports about being shadowbanned come from public forums, blog post discussions, and the like.

Since this practice isn’t out in the open, it is difficult to get a comprehensive understanding of it. However, we will present as much as we know at this point of time.

We shall examine the reports coming from each of these platforms and look into the best ways on how shadowbanning can best be circumnavigated or resolved.

The Shadowban on Various Social Media Platforms

As we will soon see, the practice of shadowbanning happens rather differently on various social media platforms.

When we understand what does shadow banned mean on different social media, we will also see how that platform regulates their content and how we can successfully avoid being banned ourselves.

1. TikTok

TikTok is a platform where social media users interact by posting short videos of usually less than 1 minute long. It is fast growing as a platform for marketers to start their content, especially if they wish to reach those under 30 years old.

Users who have experienced shadowbanning on TikTok claim that their videos are prevented from showing up on the ‘For You’ feed, also known as the FYP.

When users log into their TikTok account, they can watch videos from two feeds. The first is ‘Following’ which shows videos from accounts they’ve subscribed to. The second is the ‘For You’ feed which recommends videos based on the users’ preferences, via TikTok’s own algorithm.

Appearing on FYP is crucial for many business accounts as they depend on TikTok to recommend their videos to users beyond that of their followers, thereby growing their presence.

You may be interested in: TikTok Ads Malaysia: How to Advertise on TikTok Malaysia

To be fair, TikTok has released an official statement whereby they deny the existence of shadowbanned Tiktok accounts. What they do acknowledge, is that their algorithm will reduce recommendations from content creators that repeatedly go against content regulations.

These violations include sexually explicit content, spamming, hate speech, fake news and so on.

Therefore, if you’re wondering how to find out if you’re shadowbanned on Tiktok, the answer is that there is no definitive way of knowing. However, there are ways you can analyse your past content engagement and visibility level.

An example is using the Triberr website.

Triberr has a TikTok shadowbanned checker that can analyze your 10 previous posts to see if there are any suspected hashtag pages or if your post has been marked as spam.

It won’t immediately tell you how to get rid of shadowban on TikTok, but you’ll be able to remove any offending content using this checker.

Thought tedious, this is the best strategy on how to get unshadowbanned on tiktok, apart from contacting administrators.

Triberr's Instagram Shadowban Test | What is Shadowbanned | One Search Pro Digital Marketing
Triberr’s Instagram shadowban test helps determine if there are any objectionable hashtags in your TikTok content. Source: Petapixel

2. Facebook

Facebook filed and was granted a patent in 2015 that allows them to remove certain content from their pages.

Basically, Facebook shadow banning involves the removal of posts that have misleading information, including those posted on private Facebook groups.

Facebook has a strict policy on misinformation that has long been enforced. They even employ an independent body to fact-check the validity of the information found on posts.

In addition to misinformation, your post can be removed for violence, nudity, shocking images, racism, and other negative content.

This is to encourage users to know how to manage their Facebook page better.

There are several other things that can get your content removed, such as repeatedly posting clickbaits, which are sensationalized content meant to drive people to a webpage. Spamming inboxes and behaving like a bot also counts towards making Facebook take note of your page.

If there are multiple posts that violate the online community standards from your account, there’s a high chance your account can get flagged too.

Usually, Facebook penalizes such accounts by suspending them for a limited amount of time with an official notice.

Even after completing a suspension, your account’s content can have reduced visibility if Facebook deems that the content is undesirable.

The only way to confirm the question “am I shadowbanned?” is to regularly check your engagement levels.

You can also manually search for your page using other accounts not related to your page that isn’t an admin or a post creator.

Sample Facebook Engagement Insights | What is Shadowbanned | One Search Pro Digital Marketing
Regularly check your Facebook engagement insights to see if there are any sudden and prolonged drops in engagement. Source: Hootsuite

3. Twitter

Shadowban Twitter usually limits the reach of accounts due to content violations, and not much else.

Twitter has mentioned that they don’t deliberately make posts invisible to other users and that they allow opinions freely, never banning political viewpoints or opinions.

However, they do acknowledge that tweets are ranked during searches, with objectionable tweets generally harder to discover or find.

This ranking is akin to being shadowbanned for many accounts, especially if your account has grown organically.

In short, Twitter does not take kindly to accounts that regularly troll or spam content.

A Twitter shadowban or a Twitter ghost ban usually takes on one of three forms, depending on the objections that have been raised regarding your account.

The first is thread shadowbans, whereby users cannot see the comments and replies to your post.

The second is when your profile is blocked from search suggestions when users search for your username, and thirdly, a full search ban whereby Twitter shadowban removes all your tweets, replies, and profile from being searched.

Twitter has a term for accounts that repeatedly violate regulations and they’re known as ‘bad faith actors’. While not imposing a full-suspension on accounts and tweets, Twitter does limit the reach of these bad-faith actors based on the level of violation.

One Twitter shadowban checker is Hisubway.online which is a simple online checker that will give you the answer to “Am I shadowbanned, Twitter?”.

Shadowban Checker Hisubway | What is Shadowbanned | One Search Pro Digital Marketing
Tools like Hisubway are an easy way to check if there are any search restrictions on your Twitter account. Source: Hisubway

4. Instagram

Instagram is an image-rich social media platform, and many businesses that have an Instagram account rely on things like hashtags and the Explore page to make their content discoverable by Instagram users beyond their own circle of followers.

A shadow ban on Instagram means that your account won’t be visible when users go to their ‘Explore’ page, and your posts won’t show up when someone searches for a keyword. Instagram shadowban accounts, therefore, lose out when it comes to using Instagram for business.

Instagram released a statement on their official Instagram for Business account in 2016 and 2017 stating that Instagram shadowban is not something they do. This was in response to widespread reports from users who found their content missing when they searched for relevant hashtags.

However, although Instagram shadowban isn’t acknowledged, they do officially state that they do perform the following:

  • The Instagram algorithm hides certain posts related to hashtag pages, as these posts come from bad actors, i.e. accounts that regularly post controversial content
  • Make some hashtags unsearchable, especially if these hashtag pages are associated with inappropriate content.
Official Statement Released by Instagram for Business | What is Shadowbanned | One Search Pro Digital Marketing
Instagram for Business released an official statement on hashtags. Source: IG for Business@Facebook

To check if your Instagram accounts or any of its posts has been shadowbanned, you can do so manually by searching for yourself or a related hashtag on the Discover page.

Alternatively, you can also rely on the Instagram shadowban tracker like Heist Social.

Contacting Instagram support is another way of receiving confirmation on this social network that the ban is in place, and to find ways to remove it.

Thus far, Instagram support has been fair in their dealings with such cases.

5. YouTube

In reality, a YouTube shadowban isn’t as common as one would think. Youtube already has guidelines for video content on their channel, and they will remove or not post any problematic content that violates their community guidelines.

Youtube’s terms are put in place in order to protect minors and to ensure that the platform stays as family-friendly as possible.

There are usually two ways that your content can face forcible removal.

The first is if Youtube detects your offending video by themselves, and the second is if it is reported by your viewers.

There are several channels that reported that their content cannot be found when searched, and this sometimes extends to their entire channels as well.

One very famous example of a channel that has faced issues with shadowbanning is PewDiePie, one of the most highly subscribed channels on the platform.

Pewds is known for posting some rather controversial content, and for a period of time, his subscribers complained that they couldn’t find his videos using the search function.

The matter was promptly resolved when users lodged complaints to Youtube.

If you cannot find your content or your channel when searching for it on Youtube, you can lodge a complaint using the ‘YouTube Help’ site.

Removing Shadowban on YouTube | What is Shadowbanned | One Search Pro Digital Marketing
You can try to remove your shadowban on YouTube by reaching out to their support team. Source: YouTube Help

Access the page, find the three lines on the upper left side of the screen. Once you choose that, choose ‘fix a problem’ and then choose ‘support options’ and then ‘send feedback’.

Describe your problem to the team as best you can, and send them screen captures of your searches.

If you have not violated any of their content regulations, Youtube will surely work on reinstating your videos as best they can.

6. LinkedIn

Compared to the other platforms on this list, LinkedIn is much more strict about its content. This is because LinkedIn is considered a social media platform for professionals, and they need to keep up with their standards.

A shadowban on LinkedIn is usually linked to these elements rather than anything else.

  • Buying followers or likes
  • Using bots to post and spam
  • Using hashtags that are not approved by the site, or using irrelevant hashtags.
  • Spamming users with irrelevant content, usually on their messenger
  • Account showing too many repetitive patterns in content

When talking about what’s a shadow ban on LinkedIn, we should keep in mind that their content policy is different from other sites as well.

Apart from the usual ban on provocative content, LinkedIn also ensures that the posts on their site adhere to a high level of corporate professionalism.

It’s not enough that your content has an absence of prohibited elements. You also have to ensure that it’s relevant to your target niche and thereby achieve the engagement you’re after.

The LinkedIn policy does state clearly that they reserve the right to limit the visibility of content that violates their terms or remove it entirely if it is too offensive.

There are several ways of getting out from a LinkedIn shadowban. The first is to contact their support for help.

It may also be a good idea to stop using the platform for a period of time, remove apps that don’t comply with their conditions, remove posts with undesirable hashtags, and remove any bots or automation tools you may be using.

7 Social Media Marketing Insider Tips to Avoid Being Shadowbanned

There are several general rules that apply across platforms when it comes to avoiding your account being shadowbanned.

1. Don’t Violate Community Guidelines

Before you start posting, you should always understand each platform’s terms and conditions, especially when it comes to the type of content that is posted.

Different platforms have different rules and regulations on what to post, including images and videos.

Sometimes, in order to market themselves, certain brands think it’s fine to post controversial content as this will attract attention, which will translate into followers.

If you do that, you may create difficulties for yourself later on.

2. Avoid Any Bot-Like Activities

There are many ways to use bots or automated programs to drive traffic to your account, with the aim of website conversion.

This includes spamming users’ inboxes, tagging them in posts, creating posts with hundreds of irrelevant but trending hashtags, and more.

The administrators of any platform would definitely not tolerate this type of activity, especially if your bots are harassing other users or invading their privacy.

Bot-like activities can be detected by administrators who have their own methods oF pattern recognition.

Make sure that you follow legitimately paid and organic methods to reach audiences on your channels. Although using bots may be an easy way out, it does more harm than good in the long run.

3. Avoid Using Banned Hashtags

Different platforms will have a list of hashtags that they prohibit. This prohibition arises from the fact that the hashtag has been associated repeatedly with prohibited content or comments.

Oftentimes, these banned hashtags are related to things like discrimination, racism, misinformation, violence, and the like.

To put this in context, some samples may include: #useless, #unwanted, #deadinside, #anxietymemes, and more.

Sometimes, terms associated with these things, without even hashtags, can get your content flagged.

Even though you may be speaking about these things in an informational manner and not promoting them, you do have to be aware and remove the terms or hashtags if it is requested by the platform administrators.

4. Be Respectful

Any sort of misbehavior will probably get your account flagged by the admins. This includes if you abuse, harass or troll other users repeatedly.

In order to maintain the peacefulness of their platform, administrators have no choice but to remove undesirable characters.

Therefore, if you are interacting with other users online, keep discussions as civil as possible. Avoid mudslinging and personal attacks of any kind. This applies to your responses to your followers as well.

5. Avoid Controversial and Illegal Topics

When you have a following on social media, you can expect that there will be individuals from different backgrounds and origins. There will also be a myriad of opinions within the group.

Whether you’re a business owner or an influencer, you want to post content that can unite and be liked by all your followers.

Try to avoid topics of discussion involving taboo subjects such as religion, violence, sexuality, discrimination, etc.

At times, these topics themselves don’t necessarily break the platforms’ rules but they could be potentially upsetting to some audience members out there sharing the use of the same platforms.

Although creating controversy will gain you a lot of attention, repeated controversy will not amount to a good impression later on.

6. Don’t Purchase Your Likes or Follows

Buying likes is a sure way of getting your account flagged. This is because a sudden, overnight increase of likes is not normal.

This is even more obvious if all the likes or follows come from the same IP address or addresses from the same location or country.

Grow your following in using legitimate means, as this will give rise to more long-term stability.

7. Emulate Prominent Accounts

One good way of coming up with a strategy to increase your reach on a platform is to look at how the bigger accounts do so.

At the end of the day, solid content that relates to your target audience, as well as consistent postings will grow your following slowly but surely.

Closing Thoughts on Social Media Shadowban

No matter what platform you are active on, there is one thing to remember, which is that there is no shortcut to achieving success, especially on social media marketing.

Building a legitimate and strong following takes time and a lot of effort.

Although the shadow banned meaning differs slightly from one platform to another, it all boils down to the fact that you have to behave well in order to continue marketing and building your brand well on that platform.

If you would like us to define shadowbanned for you and help you strategize for better and legitimate growth on these social media platforms, contact us at any time by dropping us a message.

Shadowbanning FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions on Shadowbanned In Various Social Media Platforms

1. Can You Check If You Are Shadowbanned?

Yes, the easiest way is to search for your posts, account, or relevant hashtag using an independent account, to see if you or your content can be found.

2. How Do I Test A Shadowban?

You can ask a user who is not your follower to search for your username, or for any of your content or hashtags. You will not show up in any of these if you are shadowbanned.

3. Is Shadow Banning Permanent?

That really depends on the violations that you have committed. In most cases, the ban can be lifted based on the discretion of the platform’s administrators.

4. How Do I End My Shadowban?

Usually, the best way to end your shadowban is by contacting the platform’s support team and explaining your situation.

5. How Do You Know If Your Shadowban is Lifted?

Create a new post with unique hashtags, and ask a non-follower account to search for that post using the hashtag. If your shadowban is gone, the post can be found.

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