What’s a TikTok Shadowban, and How to Get Rid of It?

What’s a TikTok Shadowban, and How to Get Rid of It?

Found yourself in TikTok jail (or at least suspecting that’s the case?) Here’s what a TikTok shadowban is, if shadowbans are actually a thing, and how to get unshadowbanned, so your TikToks get the audience they deserve. 

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What’s a shadowban on TikTok?

You might have first heard of a shadowban on Instagram, probably some years ago. And, in fact, it’s never officially been confirmed that a shadowban is even a thing there (probably why it’s called a SHADOWban, get it? ;)) But if you experience it, you’ll know it. And it’s the same on TikTok.

A shadowban is a kind of secret ban that you’re never notified about but that you’ll undoubtedly feel the results of. And the results are your content getting limited views and visibility, especially if so far it’s been getting lots of engagement and exposure. 

TikTok Shadowban - big x pic

On TikTok, your content won’t be displayed as often on the For You Page or in hashtag results. And that’s without you ever getting so much as a single notification. 

A shadowban is an automated process performed by TikTok’s algorithm, and its purpose is to protect others from spam or inappropriate content like hate speech, adult content, or using copyrighted music without the author’s consent. 

At least in theory. Because you don’t really have to be a spammer (hope you’re not one!) to get a shadowban on TikTok. Algorithms are imperfect. And you might unconsciously be doing things they disapprove of. So let’s take a look at what they are.

How do you get a TikTok shadowban?

(Not that you want to get one.)

Here’s a quick list of reasons why you might have gotten your TikTok shadowban:

You’ve violated TikTok’s community guidelines

Just as on any social media platform, TikTok users agree to certain terms of service and community guidelines when they set up their accounts. If your TikTok posts violate them – for example, you’ve copied somebody else’s work without crediting them (a.k.a. violated intellectual property rights,) libeled someone, spread fake news, or posted something that’s plain illegal, it might have gotten you the shadowban. 

Which, by the way, is probably the lightest of the consequences because usually, violating the guidelines in a way that’s clear and straightforward will get your content removed from the platform. Doing it repeatedly might get you removed from TikTok altogether. 0/10, don’t recommend it.

Your content got reported

Just like on any other social media platform, users can report content for violating the guidelines, even if it’s not actually doing so. Your content might have just seemed controversial or against the grain. Or you might have a beef with another creator, who happens to have a particularly “loyal” audience, if you know what I mean. 

This can happen out of the blue and might need a bit of an investigation on your end to get to the bottom of it.

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You’ve been using spammy practices

I know you’re not a spammer. But there are some tricks spammers use that get algorithms triggered (pun intended), so don’t listen to those. Like following too many accounts at once, overusing hashtags, or just posting too much. This might make your activity suspicious, even if you have good intentions. 

If in doubt if you’re actually doing it, consult TikTok’s guidelines and terms of service.

You’ve been accidentally shadowbanned

Listen, this happens, too. Even if you follow the rules and don’t pick bones with other creators and TikTok users, you might still get shadowbanned

First of all, algorithms are just that – algorithms. And artificial intelligence is called “artificial” for a reason. So something in your content might have mistakenly triggered it, and that’s enough to get you a shadowban.

Another thing is that these days, social media platforms are not (and maybe have never been) immune to politics. So, while sometimes no one will openly admit it, some types of content might be more prone to penalties or exposure limitations than others, depending on the platform. Some creators openly criticize TikTok for this, and there’s an ongoing debate about freedom of speech on social media in general that you’re probably well aware of. And that you might accidentally (or not-so-accidentally) get in the middle of.

How to know if you’ve been shadowbanned on TikTok

Well, it is a shadowban, so you will never know for sure – as in, TikTok won’t notify you, and it’s really impossible to verify 100%. But if you’re seeing a drastic drop in views, you might be experiencing it. 

Other ways to tell if you’ve been shadowbanned on TikTok are:

  • Searching for your content in TikTok’s search. If your TikTok account doesn’t come up, you’re probably shadowbanned.
  • Trying to upload a video. If TikTok says your video is “under review,” it’s a sign your content might be under scrutiny.
  • Asking others (including your TikTok audience) if your content pops up on their For You pages as usual. If it doesn’t, you might have your answer. (Plus, if nobody responds to your question on TikTok while you’ve so far had an engaged audience, that’s also a red flag.)

In other words, if you see sudden, noticeable changes in engagement and reach, a shadowban might be the explanation. Though you’ll probably never know for sure. 

How long does a shadowban last on TikTok?

A TikTok shadowban can last anything from 24 hours up to two weeks or even a month these days. So, even though you might not really notice it at first or attribute lower numbers to some sort of a glitch, you’ll most likely eventually notice it.

Although, since it’s not a confirmed ban you’re notified about, it’s really impossible to tell when exactly it will end. So bear that in mind. (And breathe.)

How to get unbanned on TikTok

TikTok Shadowban - phone pic

For the same reason, if you suspect you’ve been banned, there’s really no official way to get rid of a shadowban on TikTok. No number you can call or person to plead your innocence to. But there are a few things you can do if you find yourself in TikTok jail (or at least it looks like it.)

  • Try deleting the content you suspect might have gotten you a ban (or was the one your problems started with.)
  • You can try uninstalling and reinstalling the TikTok app to see if that changes anything for your statistics (in case it’s a glitch.)
  • Go quiet for a short while and stop posting. (It might do you some good anyway, right?) Then come back and see what happens.
  • Wait it out and analyze the situation to see what you can do differently in the future.

And speaking of the future.

How can you prevent getting shadowbanned?

You can’t really prevent accidents from happening. But you can pay attention to some things, like following the rules and analyzing Tiktok’s guidelines.

Some creators also resort to things like spelling common trigger words differently or avoiding certain words in captions to avoid getting caught by the algorithm. You can try it, but make sure you still follow the rules. (Using the word “seggs” might not help if you keep posting inappropriate content along with it.)

To put it bluntly, play by TikTok’s rules (you know, when in Rome…), and you should be fine. Technically, at least. Because, you know, AI algorithms and all that.

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Here’s to never getting shadowbanned 

The thing with social media platforms is that each has its own rules – and its own software developers, legal teams, and CEOs (hi, Elon! 👋), who all have an impact on what you can and cannot do on a given platform. That’s just part of the package. 

So, review their guidelines closely (and keep your fingers on the pulse, as they like to change over time) to stay up to date with what’s recommended and what might land you a shadowban or get Tiktok to permanently ban your account. 

And then just do your own thing to keep engaging your audience on TikTok. 

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