You’ve put hours of time and energy into perfecting your social media strategy to ensure your message is received. You’ve determined that Facebook is where your audience consumes content, what time they are checking their feeds and which content speaks to them the most. But what happens when you’ve done everything right, but your content still seems to be missing the mark? A sudden dip in reach and engagement could be a sign that you have a Facebook shadowban.
What Is a Facebook Shadowban?
In 2015, Facebook filed and completed a patent to “permit page moderators to ban certain content from being displayed on a page,” meaning if your content violates community standards, there is a chance Facebook can put your account on a “timeout” of sorts.
The purpose of a shadowban is to keep Facebook’s content clean and user-friendly. Facebook does not want the reputation of its social network to become spammy or offensive. If Facebook users don’t like what they see, they will go somewhere else.
When you are shadowbanned or ghost-banned, Facebook won’t inform you. You may be blissfully unaware, that is, until you notice your posts are not getting as many reactions and replies as they usually do. Your engagement levels drop, and you start scrambling to remedy the situation.
To determine if you’ve been shadowbanned, use another friend’s Facebook account to see if your posts are showing up on their feed. As soon as you publish content, it should populate at the top of their feed. If this is not the case, there is a chance your account has been flagged.
Anybody can get shadowbanned. Facebook is trying to weed out the accounts that negatively affect their users’ experience. However, sometimes accounts can get flagged by mistake.
This is a huge blow to any business that uses Facebook as its primary platform. Luckily, there are strategies you can employ to avoid the Facebook shadowban and remedy the unfortunate situation.
How to Avoid or Lift a Facebook Shadowban
Facebook has a moderation policy called “remove, reduce, and inform”. If any content violates the Community Standards, it is removed. If the content is less appropriate but doesn’t cross the line of the community standards, it will lose its visibility. Mic unplugged!
Some content that may not necessarily break the rules but is not socially appropriate is:
- Shocking images
- Sexually suggestive content
- Posts with false information
This content will give many users a bad experience on their Facebook feed and may turn them away from using Facebook in the future. It makes sense that Facebook doesn’t like it. Any time an account is getting closer to that line, it risks a shadowban.
If your content is clean but you put a hashtag on it that was used on other inappropriate content, then your account may get flagged. Facebook has certain hashtags that are banned due to people using them on posts that are inappropriate. Facebook wants to cut back on similar posts, so they create a system that weeds out the posts with that specific hashtag.
You can check if a hashtag is banned by searching for that hashtag and seeing if posts come up. If no posts show up at all, it is likely a banned hashtag. Banned hashtags are always changing, so it’s important that if you’re going to start incorporating a new hashtag, you check it out and see if it passes the test.
Facebook wants to keep its social network as human as possible. The goal of Facebook is to make human connections. It doesn’t want accounts to use bots to increase engagement levels.
It makes sense that it also doesn’t want spammy behavior that looks like bots. Don’t post the same comment multiple times. If you’re promoting something, don’t go overboard and post the same thing in multiple places on the platform or day after day. You don’t want to spam the page. Keep your comments and posts authentic and human.
Facebook does not want to be known as a social network full of spam. Shadowbanning is a way to get spam off a user’s feed without letting the spammer know that it is happening. This way, the spammer doesn’t immediately try to get around the social networking system filters.
Thus we have the air of mystery around the shadowban. Users constantly question whether they have been shadowbanned or if their content just isn’t performing as well for other reasons.
Be Respectful to Other Users
If someone flags your account, then you are at risk of being shadowbanned. Make sure you aren’t spamming bad reactions on another user’s content. Don’t leave any comments that could be considered harassment.
If you are the user that is always starting arguments, your account will get flagged and Facebook won’t want you visible. Just like a teacher who gives the student that doesn’t behave a time out so they don’t disrupt the class. You want to play nicely with the rest of the community.
Smooth Things Over With Facebook
If you think that you’re experiencing a Facebook shadowban, you can reach out to Facebook. Facebook’s help center might give you some insight into why you are experiencing this problem.
If you have an ad account you can contact Facebook advertising support and get a representative to review your page and ad account. There may have been a mistake that they are willing to help correct.
If you received a notice of restriction from Facebook, you can use the appeal form to contact Facebook. Of course in this case they tapped you on the shoulder and let you know that your mic was out.