TikTok Is Shadowbanning, But At Least It’s Being Honest

A smartphone displaying a TikTok account warning for shadowbanning with logos of TikTok and the 'cancel' sign in the background, which is orange and pink.
TikTok Shadowbanning Remix by Caterina Rose 2mProject/Shutterstock rehab-icons/Shutterstock ART PAL/Shutterstock TikTok

Shadowbanning, aka when social platforms mysteriously limit the reach of certain users, is one of the most frustrating things to encounter as a creator. For years, TikTok creators have complained that their accounts have suddenly stopped appearing on the For You page, without knowing why.

Now, it seems like — for better or worse — we might be getting some clarity on the elusive practice.

In a new post released on April 17, the platform said it was updating its “For You” feed eligibility policy. It said this is to “help create a safer For You feed experience that’s suitable for a broad audience.” 

Why are my videos not getting on the For You page?

Specifically, this policy involves making a TikTok account “temporarily ineligible for recommendation in the For You feed” if that creator “repeatedly” posts content that violates TikTok’s For You feed standards. In practice, this means that the creator’s account and content “will be harder to find in search.” 

It’s pretty ballsy for the platform to finally admit it shadowbans users. However, its vague definition of what constitutes a violation of For You feed standards may be problematic for certain creators. 

Content that shows “sadness,” for instance, is cited as something that can get you hidden from the For You page. Though TikTok offers some examples of what this could look like, like suicide and self-harm, its definition still seems a bit vague.

“Sexual suggestiveness” is also prohibited. TikTok defines this as sex products, intimate kissing, sexualized posing, seductive performances by adults, and allusions to sexual activity by adults. (You can read the full list of topics that could potentially get you shadowbanned here.)

Given the fact TikTok will almost definitely moderate content using AI, as they’ve done so heavily in the past, where will this leave creators on the borderline? Creators whose niche, for instance, includes sexual health or mental health advocacy, might end up unintentionally the victims of TikTok shadowbanning.

(TikTok didn’t immediately respond to Passionfruit’s request for comment via email.) 

How long does a TikTok shadowban last?

It’s unclear how long it will take for creators to be un-shadowbanned after violating a For You feed standard. Specifically, TikTok says that entire accounts are “temporarily ineligible for recommendation” on the FYP if TikTokers “repeatedly” post content that goes against these standards.

If flagged for violations, these accounts and content will be harder to find in search. Creators will also receive a notice of these restrictions and have the right to appeal.

If it’s a creator’s first violation, they are issued a “warning strike.” This strike won’t count towards the account’s overall strike tally. The exception is when a creator’s content violates one of TikTok’s zero-tolerance policies, such as incitement to violence. If this happens, creators’ accounts will be banned immediately. 

Creators will also be able to use a new feature called ‘Account Check’ to audit their accounts. Specifically, creators can see whether their last 30 posts were flagged. Under ‘Account Check,’ creators can see their account status, restrictions, and removed content due to rule violations. 

Further reading:

Content for Creators.

News, tips, and tricks delivered to your inbox twice a week.

Newsletter Signup

Top Stories