What is shadow banning and how to avoid it

You may have heard in recent months about a new phenomenon that affects some users of certain social networks, shadow banning. Even you may be one of those affected and you do not even know it.

But first, the question is: what do we understand by shadow banning or shadow ban? Shadow banning is nothing more than ‘being invisible’ when Instagram or Twitter users search for certain content or hashtag. That your profile is not shown to the rest of the network except your followers, being invisible to the rest and preventing you from reaching new followers or new audiences.

The term shadow banning reached its peak when Donald Trump himself accused Twitter of practising it with him and with other American politicians who curiously began to have less impact on networks or did not appear their comments. Twitter has always denied this practice, like Instagram, the two networks that would be doing it, but they have already begun to admit that it could be an involuntary action of their algorithm in certain situations. What they continue to deny is that it is an intentionally orchestrated practice to silence the opinions or publications that are uncomfortable to the leaders of these networks, something that Trump denounced and that many users say they are suffering.

What would then be the ‘legal’ or ‘lawful’ cause that shadow banning would cause? Well, basically when the algorithm of Instagram or Twitter understands that you have used your account incorrectly, for example, with bots or buying followers and automation services to gain followers or I like you quickly. Also, if it detects that you use a hashtag or forbidden terms (those related to violence or pornography).

Shadow banning social media

In addition, Twitter has given a series of guidelines that explain why certain tweets and accounts are more visible than others. They deny the shadow banning but they do recognize that if you meet these guidelines you will be more visible, such as:

  • Those tweets that understand the algorithm that interests you most will appear in the top positions.
  • Tweets that are popular (have many retweets, etc.) will appear more visible.
  • Tweets that understand the algorithm is seeking to divide or manipulate are less visible.
  • The characteristics of your account: if you have a true photo, confirmation mail, the people that you follow, and those who follow you, etc.

And above all, how can I know if I suffer from shadow banning? You will notice it because the interaction and reach of your publications are reduced to the usual. If you look deeper, you will see that these interactions come only from your followers.

The trick to really check if you are affected by shadow banning is to make a publication with a hashtag and ask someone who does not follow you to look for that hashtag. If your content does not appear among the most recent publications, it is because you are a victim of shadow banning.

Shadow banning does not only occur because you have misused the network. It can be the result of your haters having made a massive report (reported your account massively) and then the algorithm makes it invisible, or simply by repeating the same hashtag in many publications and that the algorithm thinks that you are doing spam.


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