What does Shadowban mean?

Quietly blocking a social media user’s content without them knowing

Shadowban is a practice where a social media site quietly controls what a user posts. The site might not show the user’s content at all, or limit who can see it. The user isn’t told why this is happening, it’s like they’ve been silenced without knowing why.

The idea of shadowbanning actually started back in the 1980s with BBS (Bulletin Board Systems). Here, admins would set controls to limit what trolls could post, so no one else could see their comments. But the term shadowban really took off in 2018. This is when users on social media sites like TikTok, Twitter, Reddit, and Instagram started to complain they were being censored.

Usually, a person is shadowbanned because they’ve broken the rules of the platform. This might be for things like hate speech or spreading wrong information. People of all political beliefs can be shadowbanned, as well as those who believe in and spread conspiracy theories. Shadowban is a tool used by social media platforms to control the narrative and curb the spread of harmful content.

Example for using ‘Shadowban’ in a conversation

Hey, have you seen my latest Instagram post? I feel like no one is liking or commenting on it.

Hmm, that’s strange. Maybe you’re shadowbanned?

Shadowbanned? What’s that?

It’s when the platform secretly limits the visibility of your posts without telling you. They might not show it to many people.