In the vast and ever-evolving world of social media, there are numerous hurdles and challenges content creators face. One of these is the dreaded shadowban, a silent and often perplexing restriction that can have a significant impact on your online presence.
But what actually is it? How do you know if it’s happening to you? What are the reasons behind it? And most importantly how can you avoid it? We’ve got all the answers right here to give you a helping hand.
What is shadowbanned?
Though there isn’t one shared definition, people use the term “shadowban” to imply that a user’s account or content is limited or hidden without a clear explanation or justification. Essentially, it makes your content almost invisible to your followers and potential new audiences. The result? Reduced engagement, lower reach, and a decline in the overall impact of your social media presence.
How does it work?
Shadowbanning primarily operates through algorithms that identify and limit accounts or content that may violate platform guidelines or exhibit suspicious behaviour. This can range from using banned hashtags to participating in controversial discussions. The algorithms track these activities and, if they detect any violations, your content becomes less discoverable.
How long does a shadowban last?
The duration of a shadowban can vary widely depending on the severity of the violation and the platform's policies. In some cases, it may last only a few days, while in more severe cases, it can persist for weeks or even months. The good news is that it's not a life sentence, and you can take steps to rectify the situation.
Am I shadowbanned? Detecting the silent restriction
Detecting a shadowban can be tricky because platforms don't typically notify you when it happens. Here are some signs to look out for:
- Sudden drop in engagement: If your likes, comments, and shares suddenly decline for no apparent reason, it might be an indicator.
- Invisible hashtags: When your posts don't show up in hashtag feeds, even though you've used relevant hashtags, this is a red flag.
- Reduced reach: If your content isn't reaching as many people as it used to, you might be shadowbanned.
- Limited discoverability: Others may have trouble finding your profile when searching for keywords related to your content.
Reasons for shadowbanning: Unveiling the algorithms
Understanding why shadowbans occur can help you avoid them. Here are some common reasons:
Violation of community guidelines
Platforms have strict rules regarding hate speech, harassment, and other harmful behaviours. Violating these guidelines can lead to shadowbanning.
Misuse of hashtags
Overusing or using banned or irrelevant hashtags can trigger a shadowban. Make sure your hashtags are genuinely related to your content. To give you guidance, here is a blog on what hashtags to avoid on Instagram.
Rapid growth in follower account
Sudden, unnatural spikes in your follower count can raise suspicion and result in shadowbanning. Aim for organic growth.
Engaging with bots or using automated tools for liking, commenting, or following can lead to a shadowban.
Participation in controversial topics
Discussing controversial or sensitive topics, especially without appropriate context or sensitivity, may flag your account for shadowbanning.
Platform specific shadow banning
When it comes to shadow banning, each social media platform has its own set of rules, algorithms, and triggers. What constitutes a shadow ban on one platform may not be the same on another:
Whilst Instagram initially claimed that “shadowbanning was not a real thing, they later acknowledged that posts categorised as “inappropriate for our international community” would not be featured on the Instagram Explore Page even if they were within their Community Guidelines.
The most common reasons for shadowbanning on Instagram are for using third-party automation tools, engaging in fake likes and follows, or posting inappropriate content. To avoid any issues on Instagram, it’s essential users need to be aware of these platform-specific shadowbanning triggers and abide to community guidelines.
A TikTok shadowban occurs when your account is inadvertently blocked or partially restricted on the app. Consequently, your content no longer appears on the coveted “For You” page, and you may not notice a decline in likes, views, and comments.
This form of restriction is an automatic process implemented by TikTok’s algorithm, primarily designed to safeguard users from copyright issues, spam, inappropriate content and threats. The common reasons for shadowbanning are similar to those on other social media platforms.
How to avoid being shadowbanned: Best practices and strategies
Prevention is the best approach when it comes to shadowbanning. Here are some strategies to stay in the clear:
Create authentic and engaging content
Focus on producing high-quality, original content that resonates with your audience.
Use hashtags wisely
Occasionally, a well-loved hashtag can fall victim to misuse by inappropriate users, prompting platforms to take action by either removing the hashtag from search results or restricting its content. Although there isn't an official roster of banned hashtags, exploring various sources of suggested hashtags can provide valuable assistance in navigating this challenge.
Build an engaged community
Promote authentic engagement with your followers by actively responding to their comments and messages. Paying for likes may seem tempting, but it's not only an ineffective strategy; it can also raise alarms with social networks.
Therefore, it's advisable to steer clear of such practices entirely and focus on creating content that genuinely resonates with your audience and encourages their natural engagement.
Avoid automation tools and engage with others in a genuine, human manner.
Follow platform guidelines
Familiarise yourself with and adhere to the rules and guidelines depending on the platform you're using.
Keep up with changes in platform policies and algorithms to adapt your strategy accordingly.
How to remove a shadow ban
If you suspect you've been shadowbanned, here's how to address the issue:
Identify the shadow ban
The first step in resolving a shadow ban is to identify whether you're actually facing one. Look for the signs mentioned earlier to confirm if you are indeed shadowbanned. To confirm your suspicions, try searching for your profile using a different account or an incognito browser window. If your posts or profile aren't showing up as they should, you may indeed be shadowbanned.
Analyse the possible causes
Understanding why you received a shadow ban is crucial to its removal. Take a moment to review your recent activity on the platform. Have you posted content that may have violated the platform's community guidelines or terms of service? Are you using hashtags that have been banned, or have you engaged in spammy behaviour? Reflect on any recent changes in your posting habits that might have triggered the shadow ban.
Address the issue
Once you've identified potential issues that led to the shadow ban, it's time to address them. Start by removing or editing any content that might have violated the platform's rules. Adjust your posting behaviour to align with the platform's guidelines, avoiding spammy tactics, excessive use of hashtags, or other suspicious activities. It's also a good idea to take a brief break from posting to allow the platform's algorithms to reassess your account.
Contact platform support
If you've taken steps to address the shadow ban but still face restrictions, don't hesitate to reach out to the platform's support team. There are a few ways to report your shadowban:
- Go to the Account Status feature to see if a post has been taken down and then request a review directly from the page.
- Use the native “Report a Problem” option within the Instagram app. To do this, go to your Instagram Settings, click Help, select “Report a Problem,” and describe your issue.
Overall, shadowbanning is a nuanced challenge in the world of social media, but with awareness and adherence to platform guidelines, you can minimise the risk and continue to grow your online presence authentically.
By creating engaging content, fostering a genuine community, and staying informed about platform changes, you can navigate the digital landscape while avoiding the shadow of a shadowban.