If you’ve noticed a lack of engagement on TikTok, you could be experiencing a TikTok shadowban.
The infamous shadowban can be the culprit behind a lack of likes, comments, and views – stunting growth and negatively impacting engagement.
But what actually causes a shadowban, and how can you avoid one? We’ve got all the answers below.
What is a TikTok Shadowban?
Not dissimilar to an Instagram shadowban, a TikTok shadowban 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.
It’s 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.
What Causes a TikTok Shadowban?
Much like in baseball, there are a set of rules and regulations you must follow in order to play ball (and win big) on TikTok.
Enter: TikTok’s community guidelines.
And while TikTok has yet to issue an official statement using the term “shadowban”, we have it on good authority that violating the app's guidelines may land you in the outfield.
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].”
From offensive language to violent or graphic content, there are a number of reasons why TikTok can choose to silently restrict your account.
The most common reasons include:
TikTok relies heavily on automated moderation to check if videos violate community guidelines. Also, if viewers "Report" a video, this could also trigger a shadowban.
However, TikTok doesn't always get it right when it comes to mass moderation.
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."
Creators said that TikTok flagged videos that were debunking antisemitic comments as "violating community guidelines."
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 to Know if You're Being Shadowbanned
The tricky part of a shadowban is that TikTok won’t actually inform you that you’ve been banned.
No notification, email, carrier pigeon — zilch.
Which means that oftentimes a shadowban will go unnoticed.
However, there are some key indicators that’ll determine if you’ve received a restriction on your account:
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 boxes apply, chances are you’ve got a shadowban on your hands.
In the event of a shadowban, this is a good time to take stock of your videos, captions, and hashtags — is your content giving TikTok’s algorithm cause for alarm?
Cross-reference TikTok’s community guidelines and assess whether any of your videos could have triggered a violation.
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How Long Does a TikTok Shadowban Last?
Shadowbans are a real social media curveball. Because they live in a gray area of uncertainty, there's no definite answer on how long they last.
That being said, many users have reported that a shadowban typically lasts between two weeks and a month.
Beyond that, the general consensus is that you’ve simply got to wait it out till the powers that be (TikTok) decides to lift the ban on your account.
How to Remove a TikTok Shadowban?
How do you get rid of a shadowban on TikTok?
The answer: It’s complicated.
There’s no secret formula on how to reverse a shadowban, you’ll most likely just have to ride this time period out and take a break from producing content on the platform.
However, there are some steps you can take to help your case and avoid striking out in the future:
Delete your flagged content
Follow TikTok’s community guidelines
Avoid spam-like behavior on the app
Apart from following the app's community guidelines, it's hard to know for certain why your account might face a shadowban.
With a heavy reliance on automated moderation, TikTok's technology can get it wrong.
However, the good news is that shadowbans 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.