“Shadowban,” the word itself causes some controversy on Twitter. Some will state that it isn’t real or that it targets conservative minds and comments. Quite frankly, none of that is true and may just be a flump of Twitter’s algorithm. Regardless of who is being shadowbanned and for what, it happens and it’s a nuisance.

The early days of Twitter saw users engaging with less moderation than today’s climate. Ever since 2017, that has changed. Moderation was introduced to stem the flow of reports from users that a Tweet was abusive or offensive or it counted as spam. Since then, most of those reports are handled by Twitter’s algorithm. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect–far from it–which leaves open for legitimate users to be wrongly banned or “shadowbanned.”

Which begs the question: can you remove a Twitter shadowban? Yes, it is possible. It takes some work, but there does exist a glimmer of hope for those of you experiencing the dreaded shadowban.

Have You Been Shadowbanned?

Being “shadowbanned,” contrary to popular belief, is not a form of banning that removes someone from the platform, though it can be considered as, essentially, a ban by definition. What makes shadowbanning and banning different, and causes the confusing, is banning removes one from a platform. They can no longer use said platform in any capacity, especially engaging with the platform itself; you can’t even log in.

On the other hand, regardless of its name, shadowbanning does not remove you from Twitter. You can still log in and view the content others share, but you aren’t allowed to engage with any content, nor are you able to share Tweets and content. And that’s where the confusion comes in. Technically speaking, you aren’t banned from the platform, but you’re so severely limited that the distinction from banning and shadowbanning is a moot point.

How do you know you’ve been shadowbanned? Believe it or not, there’s a way to find out and the method is oddly straightforward. You see, any Tweets or content you share on Twitter is open for the Internet to search for. If you’re talking about a particular movie, someone could use a search engine to look for said comments.

For those that are shadowbanned, you’ll be hard pressed to find any content they share because there isn’t any. It isn’t gone, but it is hidden. If you get shadowbanned and someone searches for something you said, they won’t find it. It’s as if your Tweets don’t exist. Other key hints of a shadowbanned account is the lack of presence of their existence. For example, that person may not show up in your Followers list or you may not receive notifications from someone who is currently shadowbanned.

1. Start by opening a tab in Incognito Mode or Private Browsing Mode or the equivalent of the browser you’re using, so long as it has one (or log out of Twitter).

2. Now make your way over to Twitter Search site and punch in your name. Click Search. If you don’t see any of your content, then you’ve been shadowbanned. On the flipside, if you do see your content, then you aren’t shadowbanned and can go about your day.

Take note that you can only open a search on Twitter on the desktop. If you want to use your mobile device to start a Twitter search, you’ll have to open a web browser app. The same steps above also apply to the web browser app.

What Causes a Shadowban?

The “why” of the matter is hard to pinpoint. It’s a debate that will probably rage on for as long as Twitter exists. It isn’t entirely clear as to what triggers a shadowban, there are admittedly points made by Twitter, but they’re very grey areas. For other levels of banning, it’s quite clear. If you violate Twitter’s platform in some way and the situation is deemed heinous enough, you’ll get an outright lock out or suspension or removed entirely. The reasons behind a shadowban seem to ride the line of bad behavior, like a parent scolding a child for using “bad language.”

Here’s a few points that are common among users shadowbanned:

1. Repeated posting. It’s vague, but when you break it down, it points towards content that is constantly being shared. For example, YouTubers or Twitch streamers may ask you to share a Tweet at a chance to win a prize. If you constantly share the Tweet, that’s grounds for shadowban, whether it’s Tweets or links.

2. You’re churning on Twitter. To “churn” on Twitter is to follow and unfollow a particular account at a rate that is inhuman, usually one that you want to build an audience on. This one rides the line of grounds for shadowbanning, locking and suspension, especially if you use some kind of software to follow and unfollow indefinitely.

3. In fact, speaking of automation, Twitter doesn’t like automation in any capacity and you should avoid using it, no matter how helpful. You’d be surprised by how many cases of shadowbans actually points towards the use of automation. There’s nothing against using third party software to help organize your Twitter account, per say, but there is a big no-no against the use of third party software to post Tweets automatically. You should make it a point to disable such a feature if you happen to use software that has the capability.

4. Don’t post a Tweet with a hashtag that is irrelevant to the content. If you’ve ever posted a Tweet and used a hashtag that links to something irrelevant to the Tweet itself, then that is grounds for a shadowban, especially if the point of the misused hashtag was to drive other users off of Twitter.

For example, a grossly exaggerated example, if you Tweet about your artwork but use a hashtag that pertains to a disaster, and then post a link to your work. Those two don’t mix, but it’s also grounds for more extreme action, like a lock or suspension.

5. On the same note of Tweeting, sync-posting is also grounds for shadowbanning. You often see this kind of behavior in the sphere of politics. It’s a fact that entities make fake accounts, as to who, well that’s a different matter, but fake accounts do exist and they’re used to spout the same political message, with very little regard to originality. If Twitter catches wind of several accounts Tweeting the same thing, with very little variations if any, then shadowbans are swift and plenty. They don’t call them “sockpuppet” accounts for nothing.

Before you ask, “How can I remove a shadowban?” look at the examples above and simply avoid the behavior above. Comb through your Tweets and replies and apply the soft rules above and see if anything you’ve shared falls within these guidelines, if you wish to call them that. It’s also possible that your account is currently being examined. It isn’t unheard of for Twitter to shadowban users for suspicious content until a decision can be made.

As much of a pain a shadowban can be, it isn’t the end of your Twitter account and it is possible to gain control of your voice again. You’ll have to jump through a few hoops, but if you don’t want to go through the great lengths of creating another email account just to make another Twitter account, then it’s time to clean up your Twitter profile.