There’s been some panic amongst compers recently as they’ve become the latest victims of Twitter’s shadowban – but what does that actually mean?
A shadowban is where a user is ‘hidden’ from an online community, but they don’t know about it – their tweets or posts can’t be seen by anyone except themselves. So they carry on as normal, unaware that they’re invisible to the wider community. More and more people are reporting it’s happened to their accounts. It’s pretty much the same as the ‘quality filtering’ I blogged about back in 2015 – but with a different name!
If a user is shadowbanned on Twitter, their tweets don’t show up in a search and replies don’t appear in a comment thread. Sometimes, their @ replies won’t even trigger a notification for the recipient, and go unanswered. For a comper, that means retweets, hashtagged competition entries and the occasional reply won’t be seen by promoters.
For public Instagram accounts, a shadowban means that only your followers will see your posts – any post that you hashtag won’t appear in a hashtag search. Shadowbanning can affect individual posts, or a whole account.
How to check if you’ve been shadowbanned
A clue is a sudden drop in engagement – you might notice that you’re not getting any retweets, likes or replies on your posts or tweets.
On Instagram, there is a simple online tool to check – but it’s not reliable. The best way to check is to upload a new photo to your Instagram account, using a unique hashtag in the caption. Then ask someone who DOESN’T follow your account to search for that hashtag. If your photo doesn’t appear in their search results, you’ve been shadowbanned.
For Twitter, try the online tool at www.shadowban.de/tester. You can also log out of Twitter, then in the search box type from:username (eg. from:superluckydi) – if there are no results, you’re shadowbanned.
Why are users shadowbanned?
Shadowbanning was originally introduced as a technique on chat forums rather than banning people outright – a neat way to silence a troll or spammer without them realising!
Although both Twitter and Instagram deny that they’re ‘shadowbanning’, they are definitely clamping down on spammers, bots and trolls. Both platforms want users to share relevant and interesting content that receives genuine engagement. Unfortunately a large percentage of posts and tweets are spam or automated. Twitter and Instagram are developing algorithms and techniques to filter out this type of content – and often, compers or bloggers get caught out because of their repetitive actions. It’s also suspected that shadowbanning may be used to hide certain political tweets.
What to do if you’re banned
Shadowbans don’t last long – usually your account will be back to normal within 72 hours. It might be best to leave your account alone for that time. But watch out, as you may get banned again straight away!
If you think you’re affected, there’s no way to complain – BUT Mini Adventures & When Tania Talks blogs have come up with a clever solution – they simply contacted Twitter and told them they wanted to place an ad! Within two hours, their accounts were back to normal (they didn’t place the ads – just the enquiry was enough to get the ban lifted). Read more about this at When Tania Talks but keep in mind it’s more likely to work if you’re a blogger who clearly has a lot of original content worth promoting.
How to avoid a shadowban
- Don’t just like, follow and retweet – be authentic, create original content and interact with other users
- Enter less retweet comps, and more comps that require a reply or original tweet
- Don’t add generic hashtags to tweets – #FreebieFriday, #WinitWednesday etc. – but do use the promoter’s unique hashtag if there is one (this hashtag may be used to pick a winner!)
- Don’t use bots or software to increase your followers
- If you schedule or automate tweets or photos, reduce the frequency of them
- Don’t use Twitaculous to enter comps
- Don’t tweet out lots of links
- Don’t use the same hashtags on all your Instagram posts
- Don’t tweet the same content repeatedly (and avoid the ‘daily tweet’ option on Rafflecopter & Gleam giveaways*)
*Tweets you send using Rafflecopter & Gleam widgets will be recorded using direct links rather than a Twitter search, so they are still visible to a promoter if they check – this explains why shadowbanned compers are still winning prizes in blog giveaways!
Have you been shadowbanned? How long did it last?
Main picture copyright: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo