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Aug
02

What is Shadow Banning and How to Avoid It

Have you scrolled through social media and noticed that posts from a particular user don’t appear as often as they once did or maybe they don’t appear at all?

It is a possibility that the account may have been shadow banned. Shadow banned accounts are put into a “shadow” mode meaning only the user posting can see their content and no one else.

While the practice of shadow banning is meant to improve the quality of interactions on social by moderating bots, spammers, and trolls occasionally your favorite user may be inadvertently shadow banned.

What is Shadow Banning?

A user is shadow banned when their visibility on a social media platform is reduced, without warning. Users may not know right away that they have been shadow banned. Many report still getting confirmation of their posts even though it was never seen by the public. 

Platforms including Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok are believed to have tested or actively engaged in shadow banning select users. However, no platform admits to this. For example, in February of 2020, Adam Mosseri, the CEO of Instagram, said in a Q&A, “Shadow banning is not a thing.“

Other signs that you may have been shadow banned include being unable to post comments, content removed from hashtags and an inability  to accept friend requests.

In short, when you are shadow banned, your account and your posts receive less prominent placement leading to poorer performance than previous. 

What Causes a Shadow Ban?

There is no authoritative source on how or why a user’s account and content are banned. 

Because popular platforms frequently deny the existence of shadow bans, it can be challenging to prove that you have been the victim of one. 

However, there is some third-party evidence that platforms do indeed closely control the content that is and is not displayed to its users. 

How to Avoid a Shadow Ban

Despite its ambiguity, Shadow banning does serve a purpose. Its main purpose to help control spam. Spammers can keep spamming while not being visible to everyone else on the platform. 

So how do you avoid a shadow ban? Tips shared by influencers and those who have experienced a shadow ban include:

  • Don’t repeatedly post the same content
  • Don’t like too many posts in a short period of time
  • Don’t comment on too many posts in a short period of time
  • Avoid using banned hashtags

As a best practice, read each platform’s Terms of Service and avoid any activity that can be deemed as spam.

What do I do if I think I am Shadow Banned?

If you think you have been shadow banned your course of action will vary from platform to platform. For some, it will be removed after the passing of an undisclosed amount of time. For others, you will have to contact support. In a worst-case scenario, your account can be banned permanently.

 

The practice of shadow banning is frequently denied by social media platforms there is also 3rd-party evidence helping to prove its existence. Remember to always read and adhere to the Terms of Service wherever you post your social media content. Have fun posting on social media but do so in a polite and respectful manner to help avoid being shadow banned.

—Jason Martin, Practice Solutions Marketing Manager, Sesame Communications

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