What Is A Shadow Ban?

Jun 14, 2023Digital Marketing

You’ve followed your strategic marketing plan (thanks, Redstart!) and developed a content calendar in line with your mission and goals. You’ve created engaging content that features key words and addresses your audience’s pain points. Now you’ve posted the content on your social media platform of choice and are sitting back ready to watch the post go viral…but all you hear are crickets. What happened?


One possibility is that you’ve been shadow banned. Shadow banning is when a social media platform like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube allows you to publish your content, but decides that your content will not be exposed to the same volume of viewers. What’s even more frustrating is that they don’t even tell you that they’re limiting you!


The platform will not explicitly tell you that you’ve been banned — that’s where the shadow part comes in. Instead, you’ll see a drop in views and less engagement than other posts. Because the platform has determined that your post (and maybe your social media account as a whole) is somewhat problematic, they’ve taken it upon themselves to place your account in limbo.


Shadow bans were originally meant to prevent spammers. The thought is that if spammers can’t tell they’ve been banned, they’ll continue to publish trash posts that go nowhere rather than creating a new profile and continuing their mission to clog up your feed. But because social media platforms run on algorithms, mistakes are often made and real accounts can be shadow banned right along with the spam accounts.


Wondering how to avoid being shadow banned or how to undo a shadow ban? This step is tricky because social media platforms are always changing how they decide what to amplify and they don’t share a ton of information about their reasoning or what will lead to censorship. Some key things to keep in mind are to be kind — both when posting and responding, avoid any illegal or explicit topics, and avoid banned or problematic hashtags. 


Removing a shadow ban is just as frustrating. You can try to contact the platform directly, but there’s a very small chance of having anyone review your request in a timely manner. If you do reach someone, remember to be respectful — the person on the other end had nothing to do with your predicament. Blame the algorithm! 


Other than that, some things you can do include deleting the last thing you posted and restarting the app; check hashtags on your last few posts; and waiting a few days before posting or commenting again. Also pay attention to your content — sometimes a misspelling can lead your post to end up being flagged as explicit when it’s really not. Above all, keep your content as friendly and normal as possible.


Think of it this way: while social media can be frustrating, it’s also a wonderful way to connect with your audience and grow your online presence! If you’re looking to develop a social media strategy — or just better understand social media — Redstart Creative is ready to help!

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