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Shadowban – What It Is And What To Do About It

June 14, 2020
Shadowban on social media

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Shadowban – What It Is And What To Do About It

A shadowban is when a social media user is blocked on a platform but does not notice he or she is banned. The term has existed since 2006 but only recently became more publicly known. If you’ve wondered about shadowbans and how to prevent and deal with it, stay tuned. We will discuss shadowbans on three of the most popular platforms – Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

We will get into how to know when you’ve been on the receiving end of a shadowban and if there’s something you can do to avoid it.

Without further ado, let’s get right to it.

Instagram Shadowban

Instagram shadowbans can be tough
Your reach will be greatly affected if you’ve been banned on Instagram.

When a shadowban happens on Instagram, you will notice that your engagement is decreasing. It could be due to the changes in Instagram algorithms or a ban.

When you have been shadowbanned, your hashtags will become ‘invisible’ in the platform’s discovery tab. You can still use them but your posts will only show up in the feeds of your followers. You will not be able to reach new audiences and gain new followers. This is the opposite of what you want when using hashtags on Instagram.

How To Tell If You Have Been Shadowbanned on Instagram

There is a simple method that will help you figure out if you’ve been banned. First, choose one of your frequently-used hashtags. It should be a hashtag that isn’t used as much by other users, something that could be uniquely yours. Share a post with this hashtag.

Next, ask a few people on Instagram who do not follow you to search for the hashtag. Do they see your post? If not, it could be that you have been shadowbanned.

However, you should remember that lower engagement could be thanks to content adjustment as well. We suggest that you take time to do thorough research to make sure you’ve been shadowbanned.

How To Avoid A Shadowban on Instagram

There are quite a few reasons why you could be banned in this sneaky way on Instagram. We briefly discuss them so you can prevent it from happening to your business or private account.

Buying followers

Instagram has made it clear that they don’t approve of users increasing their followers in ways that aren’t organic. Using automation tools and bots to increase your following will get you on their bad side for sure. Buying followers is also a big no-no and you should not do it under any circumstances.

Instagram has its ways of detecting such fraudulent tactics and might lead to a shadowban. We suggest you build your following the honest way.

Broken Hashtags

You have to make sure that the hashtags that you’re using aren’t ‘banned’ by the platform. If you find that only top posts show when you’re searching for a hashtag, it could be that it was blocked. Don’t use it. It is recommended that you do this kind of search often to avoid using hashtags that could get you banned.

You may think that your hashtag is innocent and harmless but in the wrong context, even a simple word can be twisted in meaning. Be careful. Sometimes, Instagram will show a message in the hashtag feed to explain that posts were hidden. That would be because they broke community guidelines.

Activity

The activity on your Instagram account can also affect how you are seen by the platform. If you are suddenly unfollowing or following people, liking and sharing a high number of posts, Instagram will get suspicious. It might look like unnatural activity and could lead to a shadowban. Make sure your activity is consistent and never go over-the-top with your posts per day. Also, your engagement must be organic and not seem like something that a robot would do.

Hashtag Repeats

Using the same hashtag for months on end can come across as spam. Although you could be doing it to be consistent, it could backfire on you. Change your hashtags every now and then to prevent this kind of negative attention. It’s not clear yet when you should change things to be safe, but keep things as fresh as you can. Even brand’s hashtags can’t be trusted, in case you were wondering.

Software

You could be using software to bulk up your activity on Instagram and they do not like that one bit. Instagram is giving users the ability to post automatically after many users have been waiting for this feature for years. You need to be using Instagram’s Business API to use it though.

But there are apps out there that promise to post on your account for you and this could be seen as breaking the rules. Not all apps are going to get you into trouble but we suggest you do your homework before trusting any of them.

You Were Reported

You could have been reported by an unhappy (or jealous) Instagram user and your account flagged. It is possible that Instagram could shut down your account, even when you’re certain you didn’t break any rules.

It is not always easy to find out why users reported you. However, the platform’s official policy requires it to review any account before just acting on a complaint. You can appeal against Instagram’s decision if you feel you have been wrongly banned.

What To Do When You’ve Been Banned On Instagram

Fortunately, there are some ways that you can try to reverse your shadowban. You can do the following things to get things back to normal.

Take A Break

Give your account a 24 to 48- hour break and don’t do anything on it. If you leave your account quite for this period, everything could revert back to how it was before your ban.

Posting

Reduce the frequency at which you are posting new content. If you’ve been a little too excited and shared too many posts, Instagram could see your account as guilty of spam. Try to tone things down a bit and have a more natural posting schedule.

Reduce Your Automated Service Use

If you can’t stop using automated services, at least reduce the service’s speed. If your tool allows you to choose speed levels, go for the slowest one for a while. And consider not ever using the fastest option. However, if you can do without these tools, skip them altogether.

Hashtags

As you know by now, hashtags are super important on Instagram. Create fresh ones and change things up as often as you can.

Engagement

Instagram likes having organic engagement and if the platform thinks you haven’t been natural, they could shadowban your account. Comment on posts and show Instagram that you’re human.

Profile

It is possible that Instagram focuses on business accounts because they are often guilty of spamming their followers. If you can, change your account to a personal one. This might help you to ‘drop off the radar’ so to speak.

In general, if you use Instagram in a natural and organic way, you shouldn’t have too much trouble. Create consistent and interesting content and don’t flood your followers’ feed to avoid any issues. Just keep an eye on blocked hashtags, act like a human would and you should be just fine. 

TikTok Shadowban

TikTok
Keep your content clean and you won’t get banned as easily.

Shadowban is something that can happen on TikTok as well. If you’ve noticed a drop in your video views, it could be that you’ve been banned. 

How To Tell If You Have Been Shadowbanned on TikTok

Your engagement on TikTok will noticeably become a lot lower than normal. A TikTok user whose account was banned won’t be able to reach as many people. It is also possible that you will find it difficult to communicate with other users and post comments. 

Users will also have difficulty finding your account, if it shows up in search results at all.

Because shadowbans affects social media influencers and content creators the most, it could harm their careers. 

How To Avoid A Shadowban On TikTok

Mostly, users on TikTok are banned if they break the rules. Trying to gain a following in extreme can count as breaking the rules. If you follow more than 60 people in short succession or like more than 150 posts, it can be viewed as spammy behaviour.

Never share content that promotes crime or terrorism. Any content that could promote behaviour that could lead to harm is also a big no-no. Content that is gruesome or shocking is not allowed either. And of course, abuse and violence will see your account being banned quickly.

It has been found that users are banned for minor misconduct so we recommend that you just always keep to the rules.

What To Do When You’ve Been Banned

In general, a shadowban will last for up to 2 weeks.

The most simple way to deal with being shadowbanned is to delete any content that could be the reason for the ban. If you’re unsure of what the cause is, remove your most recent videos and give your account a refresh.

It is even possible to delete the app completely and download it again. Make sure that your app is up to date before you start using it again. Also, clear your cache and wait 5 minutes.

Twitter Shadowban

Twitter says it doesn't shadowban users
Although Twitter says it doesn’t shadowban anyone, it’s best to play it safe.

Although Twitter claims that shadowbanning doesn’t happen on their platform, people are convinced it does happen. According to Twitter’s Terms of Service, they will limit the distribution or visibility of content. That means that if a user breaks their rules, they will be punished for it. Whether this is done with a shadowban or block from the app, it is best to know how to avoid stepping on Twitter’s toes.

How To Tell If You Have Been Shadowbanned on Twitter

Your interaction with other Twitter users will be significantly affected. This will influence your engagement with your followers. For business accounts on Twitter, engagement is very important. As a result, they need to behave really well to prevent getting shadowbanned. The way you can communicate is usually a dead give away, as well as content that was removed.

Your account will not be able to reply to other users’ tweets, won’t be ‘suggested’ to other users and won’t show up in search results.

How To Avoid A Shadowban on Twitter

There are a few things that you can do to make sure your account doesn’t get banned. The language you use is very important on Twitter. If you are aggressive, demeaning or confrontational in how you interact with other users, you’ll get negative attention from Twitter.

If you use identical (or almost identical) language when you reply to many other accounts in a short period, you’ll stand out too. The same goes for the use of identical images when replying to multiple tweeps.

Tweeting rapidly is also a way to get yourself banned, especially if you tweet a lot in a short period of time. Replying rapidly also isn’t something that is approved of. When it comes to engagement with users who don’t follow you, too much is another big no-no.

What To Do When You’ve Been Banned from Twitter

The best thing you can do when you think your account has been shadowbanned is to completely stop tweeting. Allow your account to cool down. Give it about 2 days and you should be back to normal. However, some users have found it can take up to 5 days so you may have to be patient. Once you find your ban is over, do your best to not break the community rules again.

Final Thoughts On Shadowbans

Although most platforms deny that they will shadowban a user, it is possible that they will if you break their rules. So, to prevent any drama, just make sure that you stick to the guidelines and don’t cross any lines. Make sure that your content is always high-quality and never offensive or promoting bad behaviour.

Now that you know what shadowbans are all about, you may want to improve your social media marketing strategy. We can help with that – we give guidance and tips on everything from influencer marketing to how to get the most out of user-generated content.

We can also help you keep an eye on the latest trends, viral marketing campaigns and strategies. Feel free to check out our blog any time. Also, take a look at SocialPlanner – one of the best social media planning tools that you will find in 2020!

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