What is a TikTok Shadowban?
A TikTok shadowban refers to when TikTok intentionally restricts the reach and visibility of a user’s profile and content without any notification. This results in a drastic decrease in engagement and impressions on the profile.
How Shadowbans Work
When an account gets shadowbanned, the TikTok algorithm limits how many people see the content. Videos disappear from the “For You” page and hashtag searches.
The profile is essentially blocked in terms of reach. But no warning is given, so it seems like the content is just performing poorly. However, TikTok has penalized the account with a shadowban.
Effects on Profile
A shadowban severely limits possible views, likes, comments, and new followers a profile can gain. Analytics show a sharp decline in engagement rates.
It becomes much harder to gain any visibility or grow an audience. This allows TikTok to penalize accounts without a permanent ban.
Reasons for Shadowbans
TikTok uses shadowbans to enforce community guidelines. If a profile constantly violates terms of service, it may get shadowbanned as a temporary penalty before fully banning the account. However, it can seem unfair since no warning is given.
Since users are not notified of a shadowban, it’s difficult to determine the exact reason. There is also no formal appeals process. Contacting TikTok support and improving account behavior are the only ways to potentially get a shadowban lifted.
Why You Might Get Shadowbanned on TikTok
There are several potential reasons a TikTok profile could get shadowbanned by the platform’s algorithm:
Violating Community Guidelines
The most common reason for a shadowban is violating TikTok’s guidelines. This includes:
- Inappropriate content
- Dangerous challenges or acts
- Hate speech and harassment
- Copyright violations
Even a single severe infraction can trigger a shadowban since moderation is highly automated.
Engaging in Spam Behavior
Acting like a spammer or bot also risks a shadowban. Things like:
- Bulk following hundreds of accounts
- Mass liking or commenting
- Flooding feed with tons of new videos
This spam activity signals an account may be fake or inauthentic.
Posting Problematic Content
Accounts frequently posting divisive topics like politics, misinformation, or spoilers are more likely to get shadowbanned.
TikTok aims to limit sensitive subjects and copyright issues. So problematic material often has reach limited.
Getting Accidentally Flagged
Sometimes normal content gets mistakenly flagged as inappropriate, leading to accidental shadowbans. TikTok generally works quickly to resolve these issues.
Common Reasons for Shadowbans
|Community Guidelines Violations
|Inappropriate content, dangerous challenges, hate speech, copyright issues
|Bulk following, mass liking, flooding feed with posts
|Controversial topics, misinformation, spoilers
|AI errors, false reporting, unclear rules
More serious or repeated terms of service violations result in a permanent ban rather than a temporary shadowban.
Signs Your TikTok Account is Shadowbanned
Determining if your account is shadowbanned can be tricky since no notification is given. However, there are some telltale signs to look for:
Engagement and Impressions Drop
- Sudden unexplained drop in engagement and impressions
- Content disappears from the For You page
- Issues uploading and posting new videos
Search Visibility Plummets
- Limited visibility in searches and hashtags
If you notice these issues without a clear violation cause, a shadowban is likely the culprit.
Signs of a Shadowban
|Lower video views, likes, comments, followers
|No appearance on For You or in searches/hashtags
|Videos stuck processing or failing to upload
|No Clear Cause
|No specific violation identified
How Long Do TikTok Shadowbans Last?
Most TikTok shadowbans tend to last around 2 weeks or 14 days. Some users report shorter 1-3 day bans, while others may experience periods of 1 month or longer depending on the violation severity.
Typical Ban Duration
In severe cases of guideline violations, TikTok can permanently shadowban accounts. This results in complete profile removal with no option to lift the ban. You’d have to create an entirely new account.
No Clear Timeline
Because shadowbans happen secretly, there’s no set timeline for when restrictions lift. Be patient and keep monitoring analytics to see if your shadowban gets removed.
Shadowban Duration Examples
|Typical Ban Duration
|Multi-month or permanent
How to Get Rid of a TikTok Shadowban
Getting a shadowbanned account restored can be frustrating. However, here are some tips that may help lift the restrictions:
Remove Violating Content
- Delete any violating videos
Stop Spam Behavior
- Cease spammy actions like mass following
Wait Out the Ban
- Wait out the typical 2 week ban period
Refresh the App
- Reinstall the TikTok app to refresh your status
- Monitor analytics to confirm the shadowban is lifted
If issues persist after a month, reach out to TikTok support for help removing restrictions. Otherwise, creating a new account may be the only option.
Strategies to Lift a Shadowban
|Delete Violating Videos
|Remove inappropriate or rule-breaking content
|Stop Spam Behavior
|Cease bulk actions like mass following
|Wait it Out
|Most bans last around 2 weeks
|Force update may refresh your status
|Check for recovery after ban period
How to Prevent Getting Shadowbanned on TikTok
The best way to avoid shadowbans is being proactive about following platform rules and posting quality content.
Follow Community Guidelines
- Carefully follow all community guidelines
Post Thoughtful Content
- Create thoughtful, high-value videos
- Watch for engagement drops that could signal issues
Use Original Content
- Only use licensed or original audio and content
Avoid Spam Behaviors
- Don’t fake engagement or post too much
Verify Your Account
- Link to other social profiles
Understanding TikTok’s rules is key to navigating its moderation practices. While shadowbanning is frustrating, compliance and quality content are the solution.
Tips to Avoid a Shadowban
- Read and follow all community guidelines closely
- Post high-quality, valuable content consistently
- Monitor analytics to catch sudden engagement drops
- Use only original audio and video content
- Avoid spam behaviors like bulk actions or fake engagement
- Verify account with social media and phone number
Can You Pay to Remove a TikTok Shadowban?
Unlike some platforms, TikTok does not offer formal paid appeals options for account restrictions.
No Direct Payment Options
There is no way to directly pay to remove a shadowban.
Buying Engagement Could Backfire
Buying followers or engagement to fix issues may worsen restrictions by appearing inauthentic.
Ads Don’t Directly Help
Paid ads also don’t directly help lift shadowbans. The focus should be on improving organic content quality and compliance.
No Shortcuts Available
There are no shortcuts – you must organically regain your standing through compliant behavior and quality content.
Strategies to Avoid
|Reason to Avoid
|No formal paid appeal options available
|Buying Followers or Likes
|Could trigger harsher restrictions
|Running Paid Ads
|Don’t directly help lift organic shadowbans
The only solution is to fix the underlying issues that caused the shadowban organically.
What Happens if You’re Permanently Shadowbanned?
In severe cases of guideline violations, accounts can face permanent shadowbanning, resulting in total profile deletion.
Serious Violations Lead to Permanent Bans
- Sexual content involving minors
- Promoting dangerous criminal activities
- Severe hate speech and harassment
- Impersonating someone else maliciously
No Option to Appeal
Permanent shadowbans allow no appeals. The only recourse is to start a new, unrelated account.
Further Restrictions Likely
However, restrictions may still apply if violations were egregious.
Maintain Guidelines to Avoid a Permanent Ban
Permanent bans are possible if you disregard TikTok’s guidelines. Closely following the rules is key to maintaining access.
Reasons for a Permanent Shadowban
|Underage Sexual Content
|Images, video, solicitation
|Dangerous Criminal Activities
|Promoting severe illegal acts
|Hate Speech and Harassment
|Severe bullying, threats
|Pretending to be someone else
Why TikTok Uses Shadowbanning
TikTok relies on shadowbans to police behavior efficiently:
Enforce Rules Quickly
- Allows swift penalties without permanent bans
Restrict Before Appeals
- Reach can be limited while appeals are worked out
Limit Harmful Content Spread
- Reduces the impact of inappropriate or dangerous content
Handle Violations at Scale
- Flags potential issues across billions of videos
Avoid Incentivizing Bad Actors
- Keeping the process opaque avoids celebrating violations
However, opacity leads some to question fairness, neutrality, and lack of due process in TikTok’s moderation practices.
Controversies Around TikTok Shadowbanning
While TikTok relies on shadowbanning to police content, the practice has sparked some controversies and criticisms:
Lack of Transparency in Moderation
The main complaint is that the shadowbanning process lacks transparency. Users are given no notification, details, or formal appeals process.
This opacity leads some to believe TikTok’s content moderation practices are unfair or arbitrary, particularly when bans seem accidental or unjustified.
Allegations of Political and Social Bias
Some groups have accused TikTok of restricting accounts related to certain political views, social movements, or minority demographics.
For example, some claimed TikTok shadowbanned accounts supporting Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. TikTok denied these allegations.
Without transparency, concerns around potential biases in algorithmic moderation persist.
Frustration Over Account Termination
There is particular backlash when opaque shadowbanning results in sudden and permanent account termination over incidents users feel are minor or unintended violations.
The lack of an appeals process and inability to contact TikTok support heightens frustrations when accounts get deleted without notification.
Valid Content Getting Restricted
Overly aggressive shadowbanning also catches accounts that aren’t actually violating guidelines, suppressing the reach of valid content.
Automated systems inevitably make mistakes in content moderation. Critics argue appeals must exist to address these inevitable algorithm errors.
Dangers of Opaque Censorship Norms
The lack of openness around TikTok’s moderation policies and processes enables the platform to shape content norms and culture without input.
This opacity gives TikTok the power to censor and promote certain narratives on their platform with limited accountability.
In summary, while increased transparency would help, TikTok sees value in keeping their shadowban criteria opaque as they shape content culture. But this opacity leads some to question the fairness and neutrality of the platform’s growing content influence.
Getting shadowbanned on TikTok can be highly frustrating but is often avoidable by closely following the platform’s community guidelines. If you do end up with restrictions, be patient, as most shadowbans last around 2 weeks. Work to delete any rule-violating content and avoid spam-like activities. With some diligence on staying compliant, you can maintain your TikTok account in good standing and avoid the dreaded shadowban.