Shadow banning is a practice used in online moderation that consists of preventing a user’s content from being seen by others—either partially or totally—without the user being notified or aware of it. This is typically done as a consequence of violating a platform’s rules. The term shadow ban can be used as a verb meaning to ban a user in such a way and as a noun referring to such a ban. The adjective form is shadow banned. Similar terms such as ghost ban, stealth ban, and comment ban are sometimes used synonymously with shadow ban. In contrast, traditional bans typically result in the banned user not being able to access their account at all. Shadow banning instead allows the user to continue to use the site seemingly as normal. The user may not initially realize that they have been shadow banned until they notice a lack of interactions with the content that they post (because it is being hidden completely or displayed to fewer users). The term shadow banning has been applied to moderation practices used by many popular online platforms, such as Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook. Some websites explicitly use the term shadow banning in their public rules. The practice is often criticized due to its lack of transparency or for other reasons. Some critics accuse websites of using shadow banning to censor particular opinions or viewpoints. Example: The site is known for shadow banning users that violate its rules, which it claims is easier and more effective than outright banning them.
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