If you’ve noticed a lack of engagement on TikTok recently, you could be experiencing the infamous TikTok shadow ban.
But what actually causes it? How do you know if it’s affected your account? How can you avoid one? And what can you do to get unbanned? We’ve got all the answers below.
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What Is Shadow Banning on TikTok, Anyway?
A shadow ban on TikTok is when your account has unknowingly become blocked or partially blocked on the app.
As a result, your content won’t show up on the For You page and you’ll likely experience a significant drop in likes, views, and comments.
Shadow banning is an automatic process done by TikTok’s algorithm to protect users from copyright issues, spam, threats, and inappropriate content.
Essentially, it’s TikTok’s way of putting your account on a timeout — which can negatively impact your reach, discoverability, and stunt your growth on the platform.
An Introduction to TikTok’s Community Guidelines
Community guidelines are the rules of the road for how to behave on a given social media platform — and TikTok’s are no different.
TikTok’s Community Guidelines highlight how the app prioritizes safety, diversity, inclusion, and authenticity.
From dangerous acts to hateful behavior, there are a number of reasons your videos can get removed from the platform — and your account shadow banned.
According to TikTok, guidelines are updated to combat new behaviors and risks, and to uphold a safe community for its users.
How to Get Shadow Banned on TikTok
While TikTok has yet to issue an official statement using the term “shadow ban”, violating the app's guidelines could still land you in hot water.
According to the platform, “We will temporarily or permanently ban accounts and/or users that are involved in severe or repeated on-platform violations [of our Community Guidelines].”
Here are some reasons you could be shadow banned on TikTok:
Posting Adult Content
Bullying or Harassment
Reason #1: Posting Adult Content
Posting adult content falls under the "forbidden" category in TikTok's Community Guidelines.
This includes nudity, pornography, or sexually explicit content — and it could get you shadow banned or banned completely from the platform.
It’s simple: keep it PG and TikTok will keep you on the FYP.
Reason #2: Bullying or Harassment
TikTok is big on inclusivity and “individual expression without fear of abuse,” so hateful behavior is not taken lightly.
If you post, comment, or share anything that TikTok deems as hate, you risk having your content missed by others.
The takeaway? Keep the hate offline and stick to creating great content.
Reason #3: Copyright Infringement
Posting content that isn’t your own isn’t just uncool, it’s plain illegal.
And like other social platforms, TikTok has a zero tolerance policy for publishing others’ copyrighted content.
That means uploading videos that violate or infringe someone’s copyrights, trademarks, or intellectual property rights is a huge no-no.
Bottom line: stick to being original — you’re far more interesting that way.
P.S. If you need more info on all things TikTok Sounds (and copyright), read this blog: How to Find, Use & Make TikTok Sounds in 2023.
Reason #4: By Accident
TikTok relies on automated moderation to check if videos violate Community Guidelines.
But TikTok doesn't always get it right.
In an NBC News article, Jewish creators expressed that, "the app is subjecting them to a type of censorship by regularly flagging and removing their content."
This is often a challenge when it comes to mass, automated moderation.
Using technology to protect a community from hate speech can easily turn into censorship — minimizing voices of communities rather than amplifying them.
How Do I Know If I’ve Been Shadow Banned on TikTok?
The tricky part of a shadow ban is that TikTok won’t actually inform you that you’ve been banned.
This means that oftentimes, a restriction on your account will go unnoticed.
However, there are some key indicators that’ll determine if you’ve received a shadow ban:
Content is not visible on the For You page or search
Videos won’t upload (they will say “under review” or “processing” instead)
A drastic drop in likes, views, or shares
If all three apply, chances are you’ve got a shadow ban on your hands.
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How Long Does a Shadow Ban Last?
According to creators who've been shadow banned, a TikTok shadow ban typically lasts around two weeks.
However, some users — like TikTok creator Marié — have claimed shadow bans last much longer:
With over 75K followers and previously getting thousands of views, Dreamy's recent engagement drop could indicate a shadow ban.
How To Get Rid of a Shadow Ban on TikTok
There’s no secret formula on how to reverse a shadow ban. You'll most likely have to ride this time period out and take a break from producing content on the platform.
However, here are three steps you can take to help your case and prevent shadow bans on TikTok in the future:
Delete Your Flagged Content
Follow TikTok’s Community Guidelines
Avoid Spam-like Behavior
#1: Delete Your Flagged Content
Did you get a solid warning from TikTok that your content was in violation of their Community Guidelines?
If so, it’s time to clean up the ol’ account.
Remove any content that’s been flagged as inappropriate by the app to show TikTok you’ve learned your lesson.
Then, make note of what got you flagged to avoid becoming a repeat offender.
#2: Follow TikTok’s Community Guidelines
If you’re unsure what caused your forced hiatus from the FYP, cross-reference TikTok’s Community Guidelines and assess whether any of your videos could have triggered a violation.
Take note of your videos, captions, and hashtags — is your content giving TikTok’s algorithm cause for alarm?
Follow Community Guidelines to a tee to get things back to normal ASAP.
#3: Avoid Spam-like Behavior
A sudden decrease in engagement could lead you to think you should do more — like mass post and comment — to get your numbers back up.
But doing this could be seen as "spam-like behavior," leading you to be mistaken for a bot and given a prolonged shadow ban.
Apart from following the app's Community Guidelines, it's hard to know for certain why your account might be deprioritized.
And with a heavy reliance on automated moderation, TikTok's technology can get it wrong.
However, the good news is that shadow bans don't last forever — so if you're on a TikTok timeout right now, sit tight.
You'll be back on the field in no time.