A shadowban is like a poltergeist: everyone has heard of it, but no one can prove it exists. Like a mystical creature, it causes unexpected changes in your account and interferes with your content promotion. In this article, we'll tell you how not to fall into this trap and what to do if you're already in it.
To begin with, there is no confirmed data that confirms shadowban exists. Usually, we rely on official statements from developers but Google has offered no comments on this. Therefore, no one can say that shadowban is a 100% real thing.
But on the other hand, there is no evidence to disprove it either. In addition, users repeatedly complain that YouTube is sometimes excessively nitpicky about videos published on the platform, and issues strikes. Many social media platforms (TikTok, Facebook, Instagram) have also been seen imposing similar restrictions. Therefore, most bloggers are inclined to believe that the shadowban is real.
Shadowbanning is synonymous with restriction. You can still use your personal account and generate and post content, but your videos will no longer be shown to a wide audience. The number of views will take a sharp plunge, and that will be the first sign of a shadowban. Creators also note that their followers don't get alerts when they publish updates.
Upon noticing these changes, many people start panicking and blame insidious algorithms. But in reality, it doesn't necessarily mean you've been shadowbanned. Maybe you just didn’t hit the trends or the video topic isn’t particularly popular with your subscribers. In 90% of cases, this is the reason. So, before you start worrying and trying to remove your shadowban, try to change your approach to content production.
Since there’s no reliable information at our disposal, when we talk about possible reasons for the restrictions, we rely on the experience of people who claim to have encountered this problem.
The most likely explanation for a shadowban is the use of "bad" words. YouTube is quite strict about following the rules and subjects all videos on the platform to automatic filtering. If it notices inappropriate phrases, it can impose an official (with notification) or covert striking. The algorithm takes into account the video title, description, and meta tags. Unfortunately, no one has yet created a blacklist of banned words, so you have to rely on general requirements for content.
YouTube bans for:
Racism and discrimination;
Sexual topics and even innuendos;
insults and humiliation;
Calls to violence;
Promotion of drugs and/or alcohol;
Discussion of topics that may affect one’s health.
For example, foul language is often found in creators’ videos and the platform is quite lenient about it. This, however, doesn’t mean that you can use that sort of language in your video’s title or description. It's also important to keep in mind that the algorithm does not recognize context and therefore cannot distinguish between educational material when, for example, you talk about how the Jews were exterminated during the Third Reich and calls for the same thing to be done now. Many creators who cover controversial topics on their YouTube channels have the same problem.
Don't make videos on astrology, fortune-telling, dieting, dietary supplements, or making fast money on the stock market. Also, the platform does not approve of shock content that causes negative emotions: violence and cruelty in games, accidents, natural disasters, wars, etc. If your video description contains words like "kill", "abortion", "death", "corpse", "porn", "hacking", "AIDS", "Eating disorder" and the like, it might be a probable reason for your shadowban.
Apart from the video description, voiceovers and even music tracks undergo the same test. Because of this, many creators bleep out profanities so that the algorithm can't detect them. Songs can also have inappropriate lyrics: for example, rappers often use the n-word and this already falls into the category of racism and possible discrimination. So check carefully what music you choose to attach to your video.
At this point, you might have already realized that your channel might’ve really been shadowbanned due to a rule violation. Below we describe a way to help you thoroughly understand this issue.
The task of YouTube's protective algorithms is to hide inappropriate content from prying eyes so that people can't accidentally get to it when browsing the feed. That's why if someone made a mistake and posted the wrong video, the system won’t delete the video but simply make it so that it can't be found via general search. It also won’t get into recommendations. So in order to find out if you’ve been shadowbanned, just use the regular search.
To do this, access the YouTube website from another IP address and, if possible, from another device. You can take a friend’s phone or use your own gadget, but then be sure to change your wi-fi network or use a proxy. Once you are there, enter your channel name in the search bar and see if it shows up in the results. You can check it out from a subscriber account as well. If subscribers can see the channel, but other people can't, you’re dealing with a shadowban.
Sometimes, the platform shadowbans particular videos but the rest of the content on the channel suffers because of it. In this case, your channel can be easily found on the platform via search but the content will stay hidden. To find out if this is what you are dealing with, use the following approach. Post a video with a weird description using a set of words that’s likely to be unique. After that, similar to the previous method, enter these words in the search bar and see if the video shows up in the search results. Make sure you check it using someone else’s device and a different IP.
There are not many options. Since YouTube doesn't confirm shadowbanning exists, it won't help with this issue either. But you can contact the platform support service and complain - not about the shadowban, but about the fact that for some inexplicable reason, your content or channel is removed from search results. To do this, go to this page. Click on the menu button in the upper left corner of the screen.
Now select the Submit Feedback option. In the window that opens, click on General Help Center Experience to send your request.
After that, describe your issue in the form and attach appropriate screencaps. The answer will come in a few days but don't hold out much hope that your shadowban will be removed after this. At least, you might find out the reason for it, and next time you'll be able to avoid the violation.
Is there any chance for successful channel growth after it’s been shadowbanned? There are mixed opinions on this. Some advise creating a new profile and starting from scratch. This won’t suit everyone: if a content creator has a lot of subscribers, and the channel itself is filled with cool videos, it’s unlikely they’ll choose this solution for their problem. There are other tips, though: for example, try to restore the former level of engagement on your channel by using various tricks. For example:
Revise all content and remove videos that could cause a shadowban.
Continue to publish regularly and encourage your viewers to comment on your videos to boost overall engagement. That way, the algorithm will know that what you're creating is interesting to your audience and worth everyone's attention.
Ask subscribers to unsubscribe and re-subscribe to your channel to reset the system and show that the account is in demand.
Change your channel's theme if it's too edgy. Stories about Nazis or hackers are likely to get blacklisted regularly on social media.
Make at least 50 videos on a neutral topic: for example, about the white whale population or how to draw a house on paper. No controversial content or long clickbait descriptions. Just innocuous content they can’t possibly nitpick on. Post 1-2 videos every day. That way you can earn a good reputation with YouTube.
According to creators, shadowban usually lasts from a few days to a couple of months. Spend this time restoring engagement on your channel and show the system that you are not a persistent offender. If the situation hasn't changed, then it might really be worth starting from scratch.