How to Check if It’s Happened to You
December 8th, 2022 Update: Elon Announces Possible Shadowban Indicator
When I first published this article, we were completely on our own with diagnosing if and why our Twitter accounts were shadowbanned. On December 8th, new Twitter CEO Elon Musk announced that Twitter is working on an update that would show if an account is shadowbanned as well as information on how to appeal it.
I will continue to update this article as new information comes out, but this development is potentially great news for all Twitter users.
Do you think Twitter has throttled your organic reach? They might have!
They do this with something called a Twitter Shadowban, and in this blog post, I’m going to answer the most common questions you might have like…
- How to tell if your Twitter has been shadowbanned
- What is a Twitter shadowban?
- Why would a Twitter account become shadowbanned?
- Am I shadowbanned on Twitter? How do I find out?
- How long does a Twitter shadowban last?
- How can I avoid having my Twitter account shadowbanned in the future?
I’ll also share my personal story with Twitter banning my Twitter account entirely several years ago and how you can avoid the mistake I made.
Let’s get into it. Here’s everything you need to know about shadow banning and twitter in 2022 and beyond.
How Can I Tell If My Twitter Account Is Shadowbanned?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a “Twitter shadowban tester” type of software out there anymore (the big ones like https://shadowban.eu/ have been closed), but this method will show you if you’re shadowbanned or not.
Step #1 Log out of Your Twitter Account
Step #2 In an Incognito Window, Open the Twitter Explore Page
While still logged out and while using an incognito browser tab, type in https://twitter.com/explore.
Step #3 Search for Your Username
Use this format “from:username” and replace “username” with the Twitter username that you want to check.
Step #4 Check Carefully to See if You Appear
If you find tweets from yourself, you aren’t shadowbanned. If you can’t see any tweets, you are shadowbanned.
There isn’t a magic “twitter shadowban test”, but this technique should work for you.
If you want to learn a little more about Shadowbans on Twitter, read on…
What is a Shadowban on Twitter?
A shadowban (also called stealth banning or ghost banning ) is a term that is often used to describe when a social media company limits the organic reach of a user’s account. This sort of thing occurs on every platform(Facebook, TikTok, etc.)
These can lead to a significant drop in the accounts organic reach and impact the reach and visibility of other tweets composed going forward.
Twitter shadowbans (ghost bans) are almost always a result of some violation of the Twitter community guidelines or user policies. They can be detected through algorithms and AI or by being reported by other Twitter users.
There are three common types of Twitter Shadowbans.
- Thread shadowbans in which Twitter limits other users from seeing your comments to tweets.
- Search suggestion shadowbans in which Twitter blocks other users from seeing your profile in their search results.
- Full search bans in which Twitter bans all your tweets or all recent tweets from the search results.
These sorts of bans happen on Twitter as well as every other major social media networks like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. Heck, even the “free speech social network,” Frank Speech does it 🙂
These soft bans are the punishments for bad faith actors who are conducting themselves in ways detrimental to the social media platform and its user base.
Being shadowbanned on Twitter can feel like Twitter has made your tweets invisible overnight. Your tweets may or may not appear in search results (referred to as a search suggestion ban or just search ban) and you can experience a full search suggesting ban.
The difference between a Twitter shadowban and a Twitter account suspension is that shadowbans don’t restrict your ability to continue tweeting like suspensions do, but they do limit distribution of the tweets you make.
Essentially, other Twitter users aren’t seeing your tweets as often as normal or if you were not in the state of a shadowban.
Twitter shadowbans (ghost bans) can also lead to a full account suspension which means you’ll need to completely stop tweeting.
A huge difference between a shadowban and a full blown suspension is that Twitter doesn’t alert users that their reach is being throttled. If you’ve been suspended, you will get a notice and it is impossible to miss.
What Causes a Twitter Shadowban?
Here are the common causes of Twitter shadowbans.
Twitter Shadowban Cause #1: Harassing Other Twitter Users
It’s an unfortunate reality that an online community built on social media can become a place of hostility and conflict. Religious ideologues, differing political viewpoints and other divisive issues lead to flared tempers, aggressive language, name calling and in extreme examples, even threats of violence.
Just as in real life, it’s almost always better to take the high road and not engage in any hostile conversations. This is especially true if Twitter is part of your business and livelihood.
Simply block accounts if you can’t resist the urge to engage with them. Failing to do this can lead your account to be ghost banned or even an official ban from the platform all together.
Just walk away so you don’t lose your account through a hostile public conversation. Healthy conversations are all that you should engage in if your account’s visibility matters to you.
If someone is harassing you, report them to the Twitter support team. The Twitter support team is dedicated to helping prevent harassment so be sure to contact Twitter any time this sort of thing happens.
Twitter Shadowban Cause #2: Hashtag Trend Hijacking
Google wants to rank tweets based on organic Twitter data. Manipulating irrelevant hashtags and riding trends that aren’t relevant is not something Twitter condones.
This leads to other Twitter users seeing content that isn’t what they were looking for and damages the social media platform.
A classic example of a massive Twitter account accidentally (hopefully anyway) hijacking a hashtag was this dumpster fire from @DiGiornoPizza in 2014.
The hashtag #WhyIStayed was used to bring awareness to domestic violence. DiGiorno’s pizza should have stayed several oceans away from this topic and we can only assume that this was the result of a careless intern versus an intentional hashtag hijacking or reduction of the movement to stop domestic violence.
Unfortunately, the twitter algorithm doesn’t see intent behind tweets like this. That is for them to explain later. Also, when you enrage a mass amount of Twitter users at once like this, you’re bound to receive a huge influx of user reported violations.
So, don’t try to hijack the popularity of someone else’s tweet. Sure, you can leverage a trend but only if it fits. That is, afterall, the point of hashtags. Just be careful to understand the meaning of hashtags before using them.
Put more simply, only engage with relevant content.
Yes, it might lead to better engagement upfront, but it is unlikely to pay off in the long run.
Twitter Shadowban Cause #3: Spam behavior
You can’t spam people on Twitter with your content or links. This should go without saying, but many users adopt a “traffic at all costs,” approach.
Although spamming seems relatively straightforward, there are many other methods that could be considered as spam that don’t simply involve a user posting sales or self-promotional content across many hashtags, threads and comments.
Be very careful when using any sort of automation tools as well. These can come off as rapid tweeting. Some businesses schedule their promotional tweets and if there isn’t enough time set between them, they can trigger Twitter’s spam algorithm which could lead to a Twitter shadowbanning. Too many links at one time or in quick succession can trigger these as well. Sharing the same content multiple times might seem wise, but if you share the same content too often, it can be interpreted as spam. More traffic might seem great up front, but it can lead to a new ban of your account.
Also, Twitter can easily identify spam accounts and associate them to your main account. This is especially true if the same users (IP addresses) are accessing multiple accounts. A user’s accessing of multiple accounts is a dead giveaway that something is likely spammy. Ensure that users accessing accounts are limited to one account.
If something you tweeted triggered a full ghost ban, the digital marketer in you will be kicking himself.
Another dead giveaway of spam accounts is the profile picture, especially on a new account. If your profile image is a clear advertisement for a product that isn’t related to what you tweet about, it becomes readily apparent that you’re attempting to spam your product. This can lead to Twitter partially blocking your account (since it’s not as eggregious as traditional spam) or it can lead to comment ghosting, which is a limitation on how much you can comment on other tweets.
Twitter Shadowban Cause #4: Following and Unfollowing Many Accounts to Artificially Grow Your Follower Count
The follow/unfollow method is a common, black hat approach to growing followers. This is how I had my own Twitter account suspended. I hired a company called Outride Social that is now (obviously) out of business who promised to grow the channel organically through white hat tactics. Their tactics were not at all white hat. They simply found my target audience and sent them all direct messages and followed them. When people followed back, they’d unfollow them and move on to do the same thing to other accounts.
Whether it’s true or not, the amount of followers someone on Twitter has, the more trust people give them. Twitter doesn’t like when people fake their clout with these tactics.
What To Do If You’re Shadowbanned
First, do NOT attempt to create a new account if your existing account has been shadowbanned. This will likely lead to the full suspension of both twitter accounts.
The best thing to do is simply wait 72 hours to see if the ban is lifted. If the ban is not lifted within this 3 day window, it is time to contact the Twitter Support team. Simply let them know the situation, what you believe caused the shadowban and what you’ll do to prevent it going forward (assuming it was a legitimate banning, sometimes things are flagged by accident).
How Long Does a Twitter Shadowban Last?
The length of a shadowban depends on the severity of the cause, but the average duration is about 2-3 days. Tweets threatening violences, for example, will be longer than a user sharing the same text multiple tweets in a row.
How to Avoid Getting Shadowbanned on Twitter
Do the opposite of everything mentioned previously 🙂
- Don’t engage in confrontation, aggressive behavior or cyber bullying
- Don’t spam content or links
- Don’t hijack hashtags
- Don’t engage in follow/unfollow account growth tactics
Put simply, just follow the rules. If you’re doing something that seems grey hat, stop doing it.
Also, be sure to identify the specific tweet or actions that lead to your suspension in the past. You know how bad it felt to be completely invisible.
Hopefully this was helpful! Be sure to leave a comment if you have additional questions regarding Twitter shadowbans!