Shadow Banning: What Is It, When Does It Happen, And How It Affects Your Brand Online

Shadow Banning is the virtual kiss of a Dementor. Shadow banning is worse than being blatantly banned from a platform as you might end up wasting A LOT of time, questioning your content’s efficiency, being duped into believing it’s over, and eventually willingly quitting said platform forever. If you never heard of this atrocious secret feature present on all websites, today is the day. Welcome to the Matrix.

The roots of this phenomenon go as far back as the 1980s. According to Wikipedia, BBS forums were the first ones to implement a primitive form of Shadow Banning. In today’s age and time, when you get Shadow Banned by a platform, that means you can still perform all of your actions as you are used to, but… nobody will see your comments, posts, or anything you do. You quite literally become invisible to everyone else. So while you’re posting photos, statuses, share links, you are unaware that it mounts up to ZERO progress because you, my dear, have been Shadow Banned.

When does Shadow Ban occur?

1. When your actions are considered SPAM.

This is undoubtedly the biggest trigger for all algorithms to flag you as a bot. So even if you’re a real person, spending 20 hours of the 24 in front of your computer posting your music links everywhere, the algorithm considers it spam after X amount of posts (each website has different limits for what’s deemed as SPAM behavior), and if you’re lucky you get temporarily banned with a warning. If not… you get shadow banned and you’ll never know it. Means you will keep posting those links and comments and engage with other people’s content but you will get ZERO reactions back.

2. When you have revolutionary opinions.

We hate telling people to keep their mouth shut but when your end goal is succeeding in a certain industry, in this case, we’re talking about the music industry, you’re better off steering clear of political commentary, race or religion opinions, trash-talking about some important figure even if it’s well-documented and could be a big revelation to everyone you know. People and organizations had to conduct independent studies to see how far this goes and it is SCARY: “In a study that looked at tweets from 2014 to early 2015, over a quarter-million tweets were found during the one-year period in Turkey to have been censored via shadow banning. Twitter was also found, in 2015, to shadowban tweets containing leaked documents in the US.” Do you realize what this means? That social media admins can and are, as you’re reading this, deciding the direction of the political agendas in all countries. If you think X politician is vile and doesn’t deserve his position, you might end up thinking you’re the only idiot with such an opinion, when in actuality millions of people agree with you but you guys never see each other’s posts that support your same idea. And that’s because the bigger guys don’t allow it to become a mainstream perspective. We are all pawns. In business, you figure out the rules and try to keep your integrity intact while playing by the rules. You don’t have to lie or agree with the socially-accepted narrative, but you can’t be blunt about your defiant train of thought either ’cause you risk losing everything you worked years for. What you can do, is include your strong opinions in your songs, as music is considered a form of expression and art. They can’t ban those as much.

3. When your d*ck friends report you continuously.

Because strangers usually are not bothered by what you say or what you post as they don’t know you personally. Most of the account reports and flaggings come from people in your friend list. Those are the same lurkers that always watch you but never engage with you. We STRONGLY suggest you only let people you trust in your friend list. It’s enough for you to have a determined hater in your profile and he can turn your whole business upside-down. He can downrate your page, lie about your services, report you every time you say something, send false copyright claims, etc, etc, etc. And with enough reports, even if false, the AI behind most of the banning process will categorize you as a negative-effect user. Meaning you’re stirring sh*t up and creating discomfort for other people on the platform, thus you are the cause of an unsatisfactory experience. The lengths one individual will go to just to see you burn, are almost inhumane. Don’t allow passive-aggressive people in your social media circle. They are a HUGE risk for your brand.

4. When you use foul language.

You read that right. You can get Shadow Banned even if you’re a cool guy/gal and all you did was say the F-bomb a couple of times. As per Wikipedia, WeChat was found in 2016 to ban posts and messages that contain certain keywords without notice. And the issue with this is that we NEVER know what word triggered the ban so you can avoid using it again. In this case, the only safe option for you is using politically-correct language. Do not threaten, verbally abuse, or down talk to anyone. When talking to someone on social media, imagine Mark Zuckerberg standing next to you ready to press the BAN button at the slightest sign of verbal aggression. Anyone that doesn’t like the way you spoke, can copy/paste that message, screenshot it, time-stamp it, and send it over to Facebook as a Violation Of Community Policies. A scenario we do not wish upon any upcoming artist.

Shadow Banning is devastating. Some merciless platforms like Craigslist, even go as far as letting you pay for posting an ad but they won’t show it to anyone if they don’t like it or if it does not comply with their unwritten rules: “Craigslist has also been known to “ghost” a user’s individual ads, whereby the poster gets a confirmation email and may view the ad in their account, but the ad fails to show up in the appropriate category page”.

One could lose real money, time, effort, emotions, sleep when the only cause for this was a damn Shadow Ban. Treat this as your biggest concern because it is the slowest, surest death of all for an online brand or business.

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