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I don’t know about you, but I can spend hours upon hours scrolling on my TikTok For You page. The app’s algorithm is really good at recognizing what its users want to see, and, through the For You page, users can find all sorts of content that they would not otherwise see. More than anything, my incessant scrolling helped me find some of my favorite creators on the app. Unless a TikTok shadow ban keeps their content hidden.
Getting on the FYP is arguably the best and most important way for TikTok creators to grow their audience. When the algorithm places your content on the For You page, it will be shown to millions more people than your following audience. This is why so many creators are afraid of getting shadowbanned by the app.
What Is a TikTok Shadow Ban?
The #shadowbanned tag on TikTok has 71 million views, it is something that creators on the app are constantly talking about. Unlike blocking, shadowbanning is temporary. Creators are still able to post content to TikTok, and those who follow them will be able to see it on their following page, but their content won’t get put on the For You page.
TikTok shadow ban does not notify creators, in fact, it is not even an official policy that the app has. Creators will usually learn of a shadowban after they experience a dip in engagement or when followers alert them that they have not been seeing their content on the For You page.
Since the app doesn’t recognize shadowbanning as an official policy, they also do not specify why they might shadowban a creator. But TikTok has gotten negative headlines and attention based on shadowbanning. During the summer of 2020, when the #BlackLivesMatter movement was becoming more and more prevalent on the app, several creators of color claimed that TikTok was shadow banning their content. A hashtag glitch also resulted in users not being able to add #BlackLivesMatter or #GeorgeFloyd to videos, causing more controversy for the app.
The reasons why creators might get blockers are equally mysterious. The app’s community guidelines state that they will reduce visibility on content like “spam, videos under review, or videos that could be considered upsetting or depict things that may be shocking to a general audience.” So it is very likely that shadowbanning comes as a result of violations of community guidelines that do not constitute a complete blocking but do in some way slightly violate guidelines.
TikTok shadow ban might happen to a creator if it appears like their account is spam. Liking a lot of content, following too many people consecutively in short periods of time, and posting very often could make TikTok believe that a creator is posting spam.
It is also possible that the dips that a creator is seeing in their audience engagement are due to natural reasons. And if a creator is worried they might be permanently or temporarily banned, TikTok will notify them if that is the case.
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I Think I Am Being Shadow Banned. What Should I Do?
Shadow banning is not an official practice done by TikTok, so it is hard to know for certain what to do. Still, if you think that your TikTok account might be shadowbanned, there are a couple of things that other creators have done to try to fix it. A subreddit on this topic has identified that a shadowban usually means receiving less than 1% FYP views on videos.
Here is what you can do:
- Sometimes, it’s as easy as turning it on and off again. Some creators have found luck in simply deleting and redownloading the app. This is not guaranteed to work, but is certainly worth a shot.
- If you are not already, switch to a pro account. This way, creators are able to track analytics and track engagement on all videos and the account. More than anything, this can provide some clarity on why the dip in engagement exists, if it is enough of a dip to maybe have to do with a shadowban, and what content is doing better than others.
- It is important to review the content being posted on your page. If it in any way violates community guidelines, it is very likely that it will get taken down or that the app might place a shadowban on you.
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What are the Consequences of a TikTok Shadow Ban?
For creators, a TikTok shadow ban could have some serious implications. Firstly, it could mean a serious dip in followers and not being able to reach new audiences. The For You page is the best way for creators to get their content out to a larger audience that doesn’t already follow them. Not having their videos placed on the For You page means missing out on this audience.
Creators who are not violating community guidelines have also reported that they suspect they are being shadowbanned. The way that TikTok decides what content it does and does not place on the For You page could be completely random, which frustrates many creators on the app.
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Is TikTok the Only App that Shadow Bans?
While this conversation is really popular amongst TikTok creators, the app is not the only one that has been accused of shadowbanning creators. Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube have also been accused by creators. Since TikTok has no official policy for why they shadowban creators, those who post often on the app might never really be sure if their content is being shadowbanned or not. None of the platforms have official policies for shadowbanning. It remains a relative mystery for creators.