As all creators know, breaking the rules outlined in TikTok’s Community Guidelines can result in a ban. But did you know that the app can limit your content’s visibility without removing your account from the platform? This practice is called shadow banning, and while TikTok doesn’t officially acknowledge it, many users claim to have experienced it.
When you get banned from TikTok, the platform notifies you as soon as you try to log in to your account. In most cases, you will immediately know which actions caused the ban, as TikTok always issues a warning when you start breaking its rules.
But when it comes to shadow banning, nothing is quite so straightforward. You’ll receive no notification about the ban, nor will any of your options be limited. In fact, you’ll be able to post videos, interact with other users, and view content just as always.
So, how can you tell you are shadow banned? A sudden drop in your views, likes, and comments is a good indicator. If you haven’t made any drastic changes to your content, yet you experience lower engagement than usual, TikTok may have shadow banned you.
Essentially, the platform removes your videos from the For You Page, making them harder to find in search. As a result, even your followers won’t see your content unless they go out of their way to view it on your profile.
Since shadow bans are quite unofficial, their causes are not outlined in TikTok’s Community Guidelines. Still, the platform can mute your account for several reasons.
Community Guidelines violations often lead to suspension or a permanent ban, but sometimes you’ll be shadow banned instead. Usually, that happens if the offense isn’t too serious and if it’s one of your first transgressions. Then, you’ll receive a warning and potentially be muted for a while.
If you’re new to the platform and excited to grow your audience, you might start posting several times a day or following hundreds of accounts at once. Unfortunately, TikTok’s algorithm considers such behavior spam even if your intentions are pure. And that might put you in a time-out until you change your course of action.
At times, TikTok might shadow ban you even if there’s nothing wrong with your account. In such a case, it’s likely a bug caused by TikTok’s algorithm. After all, the app’s staff doesn’t actually review content in search of violations. The process is automated, and mistakes are possible no matter how good the algorithm is.
However, some creators believe that this alleged accidental shadow banning isn’t as innocent as TikTok would like us to think. There’s some evidence that the app muted some protestors and activists from minority groups when they tried to speak on the issues their communities face.
Of course, TikTok higher-ups have denied any purposeful stifling of voices and vowed to improve their algorithm. Still, you should know that speaking on controversial topics may get you shadow banned.
In most cases, you’ll simply have to ride out the ban until your account returns to normal. That usually takes around two weeks, though it’s not the same for everyone. Some creators reported being muted for only a few days, while others had to wait for a whole month.
To ensure your shadow ban is lifted as quickly as possible, you can take the following steps:
Once you notice you’re not getting as much engagement as usual, your first instinct might be to post more than normal. As we’ve explained above, though, that’s a bad idea. TikTok’s algorithm would flag you as a potential bot, leading to a prolonged shadow ban.
Instead, you could lay low and not post for two weeks. That way, you will ensure the algorithm finds no other issues and restores your account’s status to normal.
If TikTok has sent you warnings about certain videos before shadow banning you, consider deleting them from your account. Even if you don’t know exactly which videos are the issue, you could comb through your profile and try to find a culprit. Removing problematic content will show TikTok that you’re willing to be on your best behavior.
Use this opportunity to brush up on TikTok’s rules, especially if you plan to post despite the shadow ban. Reading Community Guidelines could also help you understand what triggered the algorithm in the first place.