What would you do if you noticed a sudden inexplicable drop in engagement on your social media account? Assume it’s a bug? Check back later? Maybe. Or maybe you’ve been shadowbanned.
What is a Shadowban?
So what exactly is a shadowban? According to Oxford Languages and Google, shadow-banning is to “block (a user) from a social media site or online forum without their knowledge, typically by making their posts and comments no longer visible to other users.”
The New York Times suggests that the term has been in use since 2012 when Reddit administrators were accused of blocking links to an article while simultaneously calling for transparency within the platform.
In recent history, several social media platforms, including Twitter, have been accused of shadowbanning, though most deny such claims.
Understanding Twitter Shadowban
It is important to note that there is a difference between Tweets with limited visibility, account suspensions, and shadowbans. In its 2018 blog post Setting the record straight on shadow banning, Twitter claims that the platform does not employ the practice of shadowbanning.
However, there are cases in which Twitter will add notices on accounts when content may be sensitive or age-restricted, and in extreme cases, Twitter will suspend accounts for violating the platform’s rules.
Still, many users fear that Twitter’s algorithms may inhibit the reach of certain posts, limiting the audience.
Different types of bans on Twitter
A thread ban blocks other users from seeing your responses to Tweets.
Search Suggestion Ban
A search suggestion ban blocks your profile from showing up in others’ search results.
This type of ban blocks your Tweets from appearing in search results.
The Reply Barrier Ban
Twitter may hide harmful replies behind a barrier.
Detecting a Twitter Shadowban
Of course, there is no way to really know if you’re being shadowbanned. Though Twitter denies the use of shadow banning, you may feel more confident by doing a little research on your account. Note, to detect a shadowban your Tweets must be public.
To complete a shadowban check, first, log out of your account. Open an incognito browser and search for //twitter.com/explore. Type in your username, and if you find it, great! You’re not shadowbanned.
Another way to check is by using an online shadowban tester, such as HiSubway Shadowban Test. Keep in mind that many of these shadowban testers, such as ShadowBird Twitter Shadowban Check, have had to shut down due to an increasing number of bots used on Twitter.
Causes of Twitter Shadowbans
Why might a social media platform employ shadowbans? Many people fear it is to push (or hinder) political agendas, but we’re not here to talk politics and allegations. Another more likely reason a platform might utilize shadowbans is to benefit legitimate users of the platform.
For example, a platform might shadowban a perceived spam account. A shadowban would allow the spam account to keep spamming away without anyone on the receiving end. Why not just ban the spam accounts?
Simple: if a spammer knows their account is banned, they’ll begin looking for a workaround, most likely creating a new account.
In the Twitter blog post mentioned above, Twitter states that “bad-faith actors who intend to manipulate or divide the conversation should be ranked lower” in their algorithms. To avoid your account being deemed the product of “bad-faith actors,” avoid the following:
Harassment and engaging in hostile conversations
Engaging in hostile conversations or harassment is a surefire way to get other users to block or mute you. The more negative reactions to your account, the more like your account may be considered a “bad-faith actor.”
Misusing hashtags and hijacking trending topics
Misusing hashtags and hijacking trending topics is another way to earn negative reactions.
Engaging in spam behavior and violating platform guidelines
As mentioned earlier, spam behavior is the most likely way to get an account shadowbanned. If you’re selling a product or service, don’t get too promotional. It might send the wrong message, possibly leading to a shadowban. Likewise, violating platform guidelines may get your account shut down altogether.
How to Avoid Twitter Shadowban
How can you avoid a Twitter shadowban? By following the rules and guidelines laid out on the platform, you should be safe.
Practicing respectful and non-confrontational behavior
Put your best face forward. Twitter wants actively engaged users to add to the conversation.
Using hashtags responsibly and relevantly
Use appropriate and relevant hashtags for their intended purpose.
Avoiding spamming tactics and excessive self-promotion
This is key. If you have a business, yes you want to promote yourself, but do so tactfully. Find interesting and useful content to post.
Steering clear of follow/unfollow growth strategies
Follow/unfollow growth strategies may seem like an easy way to gain followers quickly, but this activity might make your account look questionable and end up putting you under a shadowban.
Dealing with a Shadowban
If for some reason your account has been shadowbanned, there are a few dos and don’ts.
Don’t: Create a new account to evade a shadowban
Creating a new account may be tempting, but in reality, it will be a lot of work for minimal payback.
DO: Wait for 72 hours to see if the ban is lifted
Give your account a few days to recoup from any activity that may have been construed as negative.
DO: Contact Twitter Support if the ban persists
If your account still appears to be banned after 72 hours, reach out to Twitter support and they will be able to get things sorted out for you.
Shadowban on other social media platforms
Do other social media platforms employ shadowbans?
Like Twitter, Instagram claims that they do not shadowban, however, the algorithms can hide your posts. If you think you have been shadowbanned, take a look at your Instagram Insights.
If your overall reach has had a sudden decline, you may have been shadowbanned. Like Twitter, the ban should lift after a few days. Remember to follow Instagram policies and guidelines to avoid further bans.
Originally, Reddit was very open about shadowbanning. However, the updated system goes by a new name. Reddit has its own rules concerning shadowbans, and subreddits may have their own rules to follow, such as no self-promotion. Ultimately, they don’t want you to spam or harass others.
Like other platforms, TikTok doesn’t specifically address shadowbans in their policies, but they do use algorithms that can make a difference in where your content ranks.
To see if you may be shadowbanned, check the statistics on your For You page. As always, follow the community guidelines, and your account should be safe from shadowbans.
Facebook is unique in its approaches. It uses three standards, “Remove, Reduce, and Inform.” Facebook will remove contents that violate its Community Standards, including things such as hate speech or fake accounts.
Content that doesn’t specifically violate the standards but is problematic, such as misinformation or clickbait, will be reduced by using ranking systems. Facebook may inform users by adding context to questionable content. Facebook accounts with excessive clickbait could potentially be shadowbanned.
Known as a professional site, LinkedIn has stricter policies than some other platforms. Violating these policies could limit the visibility of your content or possibly even cause its removal.
YouTube denies shadowbanning channels, however, questionable content may be flagged and need to be reviewed before it appears in searches. Like other platforms, be sure that you are following the appropriate user guidelines to avoid a shadowban.
Answers to frequently asked questions in regards to a Twitter shadowban.
How long does a Twitter shadowban last?
Twitter claims that it does not employ the use of shadowbans, but most platforms will only shadowban for 2-3 days. If you still are unable to search your account after 72 hours, or 3 days, reach out to support.
What is the Impact of a Twitter shadowban?
A shadowban will temporarily block a user’s posts and/or comments. Obviously, this will limit engagement with the account and may even make the account undiscoverable.
How do I reset a shadowban?
The best thing you can do is stop the activity on your account. Stop tweeting, stop retweeting, and stop all automated posts. Remove any link that may appear “spammy” and halt the use of bots for followers.
Give your account 72 hours. Once the ban is lifted be sure to follow the platforms’ rules and guidelines to avoid any further bans.
A shadowban on your account can be annoying, especially if you feel the ban is unjust. Hopefully, the tips in this post can help you avoid any shadowbanning in the future.