You log on to your social media…but nothing’s as it should be! You can’t post, your followers are gone, and maybe you’re staring down a posting suspension. Eeeeeeeek! Unfortunately, there are tons of things that can land you in social media jail – some legit, like being a nasty Nancy and doxxing or threatening people, and some totally weird and up to the whims of a particular social media platform. Here are a few examples of issues that can land your account in jail.

– Other people reporting your posts. 

Haters gonna hate. But on social media, haters can also report your posts. If someone is committed enough to the bit, you can wind up in social media jail while the platform reviews your posts to check for inappropriate content. Oof. Keep your friends close, and your enemies blocked!

– Dodgy-looking images.

Posted a picture of a butternut squash that’s heavy on the “butt”? The algorithms might just land you in social media jail with a pornography warning. Oops. (Fun fact – this happened to a children’s book author friend of ours.) Images that can get you in timeout or banned include sexual ones, violent ones, sweary ones, or even copyrighted pics without attribution. Squint and try to imagine the worst before you post!

– Going on a posting spree. 

We get it – you’re excited, and you have great stuff to share! But posting too often, sending too many private messages, or going wild with the “follow” and “comment” buttons can get you flagged for suspicious activity. Generally you’ll end up doing a short stint in “jail”, but if you’re being a legit spammer, your account might be deactivated. Quality over quantity, friends!

– Misconstrued snark.

Maybe you’re being ironic or satirical, or you’re trying to do the parody thing. But algorithms are algorithms, friend. They don’t get nuance or context. If you’re making snarky comments directed at the platform itself, or pointing out hypocrisy or general terribleness from brands or public figures…you might get flagged for it. (But unless your brand is all about the snark, you’re not undermining your brand identity by rage-tweeting late on a Friday night, right? Right?)

– Banned words.

It’s called algospeak, and it’s the language The Kids are using to get around TikTok’s banned word list. TikTok has a super-aggressive content moderation system, meaning that words like “dead” or even “pandemic” can get your content downvoted by the algorithm. Instead, users are switching in terms like “unalive” or “panini” – and even “blink in lio” (meaning link in bio) to stop content from being buried. In certain areas like healthcare or social justice, creators are doing all kinds of lexical gymnastics to get around bans on words that might get their account flagged.

– Not technically banned…but close enough. 

There’s getting banned, but there’s also getting “shadow-banned”. Shadowbanning happens when the algorithm decides to deprioritize your visibility (generally because you’re posting stuff that goes against their community guidelines), but without any official ban or notification. Shadowbanning is bad news because it means that your content won’t show up on people’s feeds as often as before – resulting in way lower reach and engagement. But it’s tough to know if you’ve actually been shadowbanned, or if your content is just…not hitting the mark.

So what happens if you do land in social media jail? Well, generally, it’s a temporary “ban” you just have to wait out. In some cases you may have to appeal or explain yourself – while in others certain posts or even whole accounts might go the way of the internet graveyard. 

Skip Jail, and Make Your Grandma Proud

The good news is that you can avoid bans, shadowbans, and low engagement by following my tried and tested approach to social media: posting quality, relevant content at regular intervals. Wild, right? But it works!

The fickle nature of the social media algorithms also drives home the importance of driving your fans away from someone’s platform and on to your website. Your Twitter might get banned for a pumpkin butt, but (*Braveheart voice*) they’ll never take your mailing list!

Not sure if you’ve been shadowbanned or you’re just suffering from low engagement? Join my Content in a Snap! program and let’s get your social media strategy on the straight and narrow!