More commonly seen on its elder sibling platform, Instagram, shadowbans are now being experienced by some of TikTok’s curators.
So, what exactly is a shadowban?
A TikTok shadowban is when your account has unknowingly become blocked or partially blocked on the app.
As a result, your content won’t show up on the For You page and you’ll likely experience a significant drop in likes, views, and comments.
It’s an automatic process done by TikTok’s algorithm to protect users from copyright issues, spam, threats, and inappropriate content.
Essentially, it’s TikTok’s way of putting your account on a timeout — which can negatively impact your reach, discoverability, and stunt your growth on the platform.
So, why would my account become shadowbanned?
Well, there are TikTok community guidelines that we, as users, are expected to follow. If some of your content breaches these guidelines then TikTok may be inclined to place your content at the back of the algorithm shelf.
According to the platform, “We will temporarily or permanently ban accounts and/or users that are involved in severe or repeated on-platform violations [of our Community Guidelines].”
From offensive language to violent or graphic content, there are a number of reasons why TikTok can choose to silently restrict your account.
The most common reasons include:
- Spam behaviour
- Hate speech
- Fake news
- Copyrighted music
TikTok relies heavily on automated moderation to check if videos violate community guidelines. Also, if viewers “Report” a video, this could also trigger a shadowban.
However, TikTok’s algorithm is not 100% trustworthy. For example, why are men allowed to show themselves shirtless whilst female bodies are shadowbanned for showing skin, considered ‘promiscuous’. A group of Jewish creators have also taken issue with the algorithm stating that TikTok flagged videos that were debunking antisemitic comments as “violating community guidelines” (NBS news article).
How do I know if I have been shadowbanned?
Here are some key indicators;
- Content is not visible on the For You page or search
- Videos won’t upload (they will say “under review” or “processing” instead)
- A drastic drop in likes, views, or shares
In the event of a shadowban, this is a good time to take stock of your videos, captions, and hashtags — is your content giving TikTok’s algorithm cause for alarm?
How can I get rid of a shadow ban and how long does it last?
Many users have reported that a shadowban typically lasts between two weeks and a month.
Beyond it being extremely annoying, the general consensus is that you’ve simply got to wait it out till the powers that be (TikTok) decides to lift the ban on your account.
There’s no secret formula on how to reverse a shadowban, you’ll most likely just have to ride this time period out and take a break from producing content on the platform.
However, there are some steps you can take to help your case and avoid striking out in the future:
- Delete your flagged content
- Follow TikTok’s community guidelines
- Avoid spam-like behaviour on the app
Apart from following the app’s community guidelines, it’s hard to know for certain why your account might face a shadowban.
With a heavy reliance on automated moderation, TikTok’s technology can get it wrong.
However, the good news is that shadowbans don’t last forever — so if you’re on a TikTok timeout right now, sit tight. You’ll be back on the field in no time.