What Is a Shadow Ban? How to Ensure Your Content Is Visible

Posted on August 30, 2023 | Updated on August 30, 2023

Have you noticed a recent decline in your likes, comments and overall engagement on a social media site? Maybe your TikToks aren’t getting as many views as they used to or once-popular tweets are struggling to gain traction. There’s a possibility that you’ve been shadowbanned. Learn more about what this limitation means for your account, why it happens and how you can get it reversed.

What Is Shadow Banning?

Shadow bans are a type of account restriction. While the specifics may vary between platforms, the general characteristics are similar. A shadow ban completely or partially hides a user’s content from the site — without notifying the user.

When a platform shadow bans your account, things will likely look normal from your side. You will probably be able to post as usual. However, your content might not show up on the platform’s timeline or in a site search. Other potential account restrictions from a shadow ban include limited messaging or reply capabilities.

The lack of communication between the user and the platform is what separates a shadow ban from a regular ban. With a traditional ban, the site will inform the user of the restriction. It may offer an explanation, such as how they violated the platform’s terms and conditions. Depending on the offense and whether it’s the first violation or the latest of many, a user could be temporarily or permanently banned from posting altogether.

On the other hand, users with a shadow ban might not know which rule they broke. They may not even realize there is a shadow ban for some time or that a ban is the reason their content isn’t performing as expected. A shadow-banned user can still post, but their photos, messages or other content aren’t reaching their audience.

How to Tell If You’re Shadow Banned

Since you won’t get an official alert about a shadow ban, you’ll have to do some sleuthing on your own to determine whether you have a ban. If you think you might have a shadow ban, ask yourself if you’re experiencing the following signs:

  • Drop in engagement: A sudden or drastic change in audience engagement is a tell-tale sign of a shadow ban. If you usually get thousands of views and likes on every TikTok you post, you’ll quickly notice if you start struggling to break just a couple hundred views. A noticeable lack of interactions — when you haven’t made any other changes to your content — may signal a shadow-banned account.
  • Limited access to features: While you still might be able to post content without an issue, a shadow ban could affect your access to other features and lead to frustration. For example, you might not be able to tag other people in your posts or reply to other users. Some shadow bans even prevent users from sending messages to other people. If you’ve lost access to primary features, you may have a shadow ban.
  • Hidden search results: When you have a shadow ban, your content won’t appear on the site’s search results. For example, you may tag an Instagram post with #newyorkcity, but your post won’t appear in that tag’s results. The same goes for keyword or location searches.

While these factors are the basics, keep in mind that the specifics of shadow banning vary from site to site. Certain apps might provide official confirmation of shadow banning if you ask, while you might not get any clear answers from others — few sites outright admit to shadow banning.


When you’re trying to grow your brand or business’s Instagram following, a shadow ban can have severe effects. Your posts won’t appear in hashtags or search results, making it nearly impossible for new or even loyal followers to find your content. 

While Instagram doesn’t openly admit to shadow banning, you can check to see if there are any restrictions on your posts. Open your Instagram settings and search for “Account Status.” This page will let you know if you’ve posted anything violating Instagram rules, tell you how it affects your account and gives you a chance to appeal.


Since TikTok is all about views, it’s pretty easy to tell if you have a shadow ban. A shadow ban means your content won’t appear on the For Your Page (FYP), which is where videos receive the majority of their views. If other users don’t see your TikTok on their FYP or in search results, you’ll see a serious decline in views and engagement.

While sometimes a change in viewership is related to the algorithm or the type of content you post, a serious drop-off in engagement may be a sign of an account shadow ban.


While Facebook, like other platforms, has denied the existence of “shadow bans,” founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently confirmed that the site has a “demotion” policy that affects the reach of certain posts and users. Your posts might be hidden from the timeline or your comments don’t appear on other user’s posts.

While some of these restrictions are meant to prevent the spread of misinformation, other users can get caught in the middle and it may affect their brand of business.


A Reddit shadow ban means the posts or comments you create aren’t visible to anyone except you and the subreddit’s moderators. Fortunately, Reddit offers a more direct way to check if you’re shadow banned than other platforms.

You can visit the r/ShadowBan subreddit and make a post inquiring if you’re banned. A bot will analyze your account and let you know if you’re shadow banned or if your posts and comments have been removed.


Losing engagement on Twitter can be detrimental to your brand reputation. If you think your Tweets are shadow banned, log out of your account or open a private browsing tab. Open Twitter and search for your username — if your tweets don’t show up, they likely don’t show up for anyone else.

Can You Reverse a Shadow Ban?

Some shadow bans are temporary, only lasting a few days or weeks. In that case, you may just have to wait out these short-term limitations. Other times, you may have to take action to make your account visible again.

For example, if you posted a photo or used a hashtag on Instagram that violated the platform’s terms of service, you may have to delete the post or remove the prohibited hashtag. If the reduction in your views and engagement lasts longer than a few weeks, you may have to consider making a new account.

Avoiding Shadow Bans on Social Media

Shadow banning is a tricky obstacle for anyone trying to promote their brand or business on social media. Fortunately, you can typically avoid these bans by following platform guidelines and optimizing your content for your target audience.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.

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