From Instagram to Twitter, shadowbanning took the spotlight this week, but what is it and how does Elon Musk intend the “social bluebird” manages it?
To better understand shadowbanning, brief knowledge of the social networking environment and its “key players” is necessary.
Age of the “influencer”
Unfortunately, the advent of the social networking era resulted in a disease worse than Covid-19 – social media influencers.
Amassing thousands of followers on various social networks, these socialites frequently create content for their audiences, often whether the public asks for it or not.
To their credit, many create appealing content worthy of the fame they’ve earned – but there are those who, more frequently than others, actually refer to themselves as an “influencer” after growing to just a few thousand followers on a single platform.
Whether a following that’s big or small, the chase of fame by aspiring influencers is a journey on an unkempt road riddled with potholes of slow follower growth and low engagement at times.
Now, in efforts to maintain their pride through any poor social network performance – meet an influencer’s biggest excuse – shadowbanning.
What is shadowbanning?
Shadowbans take place against accounts on social networks which effectively use their algorithms to limit a creator’s content from being widely viewed among their audience or in general public content streams, similar to those found on “discover” pages.
More often than not, when a user is shadowbanned, there isn’t a proper way to tell. Hence it becomes a convenient excuse for poor social growth. In other instances, users who may violate community guidelines are notified of it and could create a shadowban based on the violation.
While shadowbanning has been known to take place on various social networks, others like TikTok claim it does not exist on its platform, thus debunking the influencer’s most common excuse.
Meanwhile, general users uninterested in the chase for fame might not fear or even notice a shadowban imposed on their account, as these typically last between and a few hours and a week.
Despite this, shadowbanning does take place on many social platforms. However, heeding calls from their users, these networks are taking a more transparent approach to the ban.
Musk’s plan for Twitter
While many platforms neglect to use the word shadowbanning, earlier this week Instagram announced a tool which will essentially tell users how their content is distributed, eligibility for recommendation to other users and the explore page and any violations against community guidelines.
Shortly after this announcement, it seems Twitter will follow suit, according to a recent tweet by its new owner. Musk took to his newly purchased microblog to announce Twitter’s plans for shadowbanning in a seemingly more obvious way than Instagram.
“Twitter is working on a software update that will show your true account status, so you know clearly if you’ve been shadowbanned, the reason why and how to appeal,” the billionaire businessman said in his tweet.
The announcement comes at a time of mixed reactions relating to the proposed suggestions forming Musk’s bid to transform Twitter, a platform he was highly critical of for its community guidelines and moderation prior to his transaction.
Earlier this week, IOL reported Musk’s intention to raise the price of the Twitter Blue subscription service with verification for iPhone users to offset the 30% cut that Apple takes on revenues from iOS apps on its App Store.
The platform also recently drew more scrutiny after San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspection began investigating a complaint that Twitter had created makeshift bedrooms at its headquarters in the US city.
It is believed that this is part of Musk’s effort to instil a “hardcore” culture at the company.