Ukrainians are massively shadowbanned on Twitter

There is another wave of bans on Ukrainian activists and volunteers on Twitter. This time, many popular accounts fell into the so-called shadowban.

  • Shadowban is a restriction applied to an account without its actual ban: such an account may be shown less often by the network’s algorithm in the feed, making it more difficult to find, and apply other non-obvious restrictions. The user seems to be present in the network, but less visible to others.
  • Tens of Ukrainians found that their accounts are now under a shadowban. It is unclear how massive this shadowbanning of the Ukrainian Twitter community is, because users didn’t get any notice from the platform. For many, that ban came as a surprise.
  • Many accounts of well-known activists, soldiers, and volunteers were banned. In particular, they are either not visible in the search, or they are more difficult to find than all the other users.
  • For Ukrainian accounts that post urgent news, military contributions, and aid to victims of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power plant explosion, it is crucial that their messages are seen by as many people as possible. In some sense, shadowban is even worse than a regular ban. In the case of a regular ban, the account owner is immediately notified and is able to do something. But in a shadowban, a person who posts urgent news, may not even be aware of why no one spreads or comments on them.
  • AIN.Capital appealed to volunteers who help Ukrainian activists in social networks to deal with banns, regarding this case. Anonymously, they explain that in this case, we are talking about a search suggestion ban.

“It’s not a search blocking as many believe, but when trying to search by name or account name, Twitter search doesn’t offer it as an option, only if you type in the exact account name. This blocking is not limited to the territory of Ukraine, because pro-Ukrainian activists who have been living abroad for a long time also fall under it.

What does it affect? Such people are at least harder to find, perhaps this also affects the algorithm’s suggestion results in the For You feed, but it is difficult for us to prove this.

What could this be related to? There can be many reasons: some disturbing content (as is the case with many Ukrainians for obvious reasons), suspicion of coordinated behavior (such as trolling other accounts), any violations of Twitter rules, real or imagined.

It is very likely that this restriction is implemented by the algorithm because in our experience it can affect both large hyped accounts and not very popular niche accounts. The very number of bans compared to the very small number of moderators left on Twitter after Musk’s arrival allows us to speculate in favor of an algorithmic ban.”

What to do in such cases? A @TwitterSupport tag and maximum exposure can help.