What is shadow banning on TikTok?

27 October 2020, 16:46

What is shadow banning on TikTok?
What is shadow banning on TikTok? Picture: Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images, @charlidamelio via TikTok
Jazmin Duribe

By Jazmin Duribe

Here's what it means to be shadow banned on TikTok.

You've probably seen some TikTok creators plead with the platform to lift a shadow ban – but what does that actually mean?

On social media, your likes, comments and engagement can be everything. Sad, but true. TikTok users can be on a constant quest for that one viral video that'll catapult them to Charli D'Amelio type fame but then it's suddenly ripped away from them. Here's the meaning of being shadow banned.

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What does shadow banning mean on TikTok?

Being shadow banned is when you unknowingly stop receiving views, likes, and traffic on your TikTok account. So, if you’ve seen your video views take a dramatic dive recently then you might have been shadow banned. A shadow ban is put in place by the social media app you're using and this can supposedly happen if you violate TikTok's community guidelines.

Shadow banning doesn't just apply to individual TikTok accounts either, certain hashtags can be blocked too. For example, earlier this year, TikTok was accused of shadow banning LGBQT+ content. A report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) found that many LGBTQ+ hashtags were shadow banned in countries like Jordan and Russia, where being a part of the LGBQT+ is still sadly considered taboo.

Hashtags like "gay" were blocked in Russian and "transgender" in Arabic. The platform admitted that certain LGBQT+ hashtags had been censored because of laws in that country.

@addisonrae via TikTok

Can you be shadow banned on Instagram, Twitter or YouTube?

Shadow banning isn't just limited to TikTok, many social media users have said they've been shadow banned on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube too. However, other social media platforms deny the use of shadow banning.

YouTuber PewDiePie, who has the most-followed channel on the platform, recently claimed he had been shadow banned for unknown reasons. Despite having over 100 million subscribers, he had just 9,000 views on a recent video. YouTube users were also unable to search for his channel or videos on the site and his subscribers noted that they had stopped receiving notifications that he'd even posted a video.

YouTube denied that he had been shadow banned though. In a tweet, they said: "YouTube doesn't shadow ban channels. It’s possible the video was flagged by our systems as potentially violative & needs to be reviewed first before it shows up in search, etc. Note that reviews are taking longer since we have limited teams due to COVID-19."