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‘Shadow banning’ of social media posts

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    28th Jan, 2023

Context: The term is related to the fact that social media companies are taking stealth actions to limit a post’s visibility.

What does shadow banning mean?

The term was coined by Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of computer science and law at Harvard University.

  • A shadow ban refers to partially blocking or blacklisting a user's profile to reduce visibility without their knowledge.
  • It may lead to less engagement with the account and low visibility of posts instead of an outright ban.
  • In other words, followers cannot see your posts on a social media platform.
  • It refers to a situation that our online activity can be manipulated by a platform without our knowledge.

When it takes place?

Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter generally deny performing shadow bans, but typically do so by referring to the original 2001 understanding of it.

  • Shadow banning occurs when your posts or activity aren’t viewable to other users, but you haven’t received an official ban or notification.
  • In most cases, the user can still see their own content and have no idea no one else can see their posts.

Is shadow banning by companies legal?

  • Private companies are allowed to make their own rules about content moderation, but for advertisers, users and free speech champions, true shadow bans are problematic because they enforce unarticulated rules secretly.
  • They allow a company to avoid taking responsibility for moderating content while quietly manipulating its flow.
  • And those who are silenced have no process for emerging from the shadows.

How one can identify shadow banning?

  • When shadowbanning has been reported, platforms have explained this away by citing technical glitches, users’ failure to create engaging content, or as a matter of chance through black-box algorithms.

Verifying, please be patient.

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