Social Media

What Does it Mean to be Shadow Banned on TikTok?

Niko Moustoukas

We know what you might be thinking: TikTok this, TikTok that…

But when a social media app is having this much of an influence on our day to day lives – how can we not talk about it!

Last time, we introduced to you some of our favourite brands to follow on TikTok who are filling our For You Page’s with top quality content. This time around, we’re going to be delving into some of the jargon that gets thrown around amongst TikTok and its creators – some of which we’re are just learning ourselves!

If you’re like us and you’re on TikTok more often than you’d like to admit, then you may have heard the term ‘Shadowbanning’ thrown around quite a bit. We certainly have and it got us thinking – what is it and how does it affect the content and its creators?

Well not to worry if you’re as lost as we were, we’ve done the research so you don’t have to!

So what is Shadow Banning?

Shadow Banning on TikTok refers to when the curators of the social media app partially block a certain user, content creator or hashtag without any prior notice. Popular creators on the app have been seen to plead with TikTok’s admins to explain or lift their suspected shadow ban after they’ve noticed a substantial decline in their views, likes and comments.

Once a user is shadowbanned by the app, their content will noticeably receive less engagement than usual thanks to their videos being more or less invisible to their usual audience. This is in an attempt to dampen their appearance on people’s For You Pages whilst their content is further reviewed.

Like many other apps, TikTok monitors their users quite closely to ensure that feeds are staying clean and appropriate for users, and that content creators are sticking to their long list of ‘community guidelines’ which include restrictions against things like sex, violence and drug use (obviously).

That being said, the boundaries of what you can post and what may potentially violate TikTok’s community guidelines is a very thin line, as many content creators are beginning to realise as their seemingly innocent posts are getting next to no engagement.

Although Tiktok’s guidelines are there to create a safe community for all, the meticulousness of their restrictions has not only annoyed content creators who rely on their audience’s engagement but has also got them into trouble in the past – especially when they were accused of banning certain hashtags and content surrounding the LGBTQ+ community and other social issues in certain countries.


Is it unique to TikTok?

Surprisingly, no it’s not!

They may keep very quiet about it, but platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Youtube have been known to shadow ban their users when they’ve come in violation of their guidelines.

According to our research, one of Youtube’s most famous cases involves popular creator PewdiePie, when fans complained that his channel was not showing up in their searches and that his videos were noticeably displaying numbers that did not reflect his 100+ million followers. Although PewdiePie has been involved in quite a few controversies over the years that definitely went against Youtube’s community guidelines, they actively deny doing anything of the sort.

How do you avoid it?

Although active, unspoken guidelines and restrictions on social media are meant to keep its users safe and push for a welcoming community, being shadowbanned for sticking one toe over the line can have detrimental effects for innocent content creators, especially when they rely on engagement for marketing purposes.

The best way to stay on social media’s good side is to make yourself aware of their guidelines and try to stick to them as closely as possible. As we’ve seen, that’s easier said than done, but for companies who mainly rely on their feeds to dish out marketing content, odds are you’re in the clear.

But, if you do happen to get shadowbanned, you’re free to keep posting as usual – just stay away from dabbling around restricted content, bot-like behaviour and be sure to keep that halo straight.

Do you want some more advice on how to perfect your social media content? Give Limely a call and we can talk you through exactly what you need to do to rake in that all-important engagement. 

Niko Moustoukas


When Niko isn’t coding and helping clients, you’ll find him playing poker with friends and Greek dancing to his favourite tunes 🪩

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