Have you been “shadow banned”?

Posted:
in AppleOutsider
I have recently become aware of a method used by comment sections to censor or deal with users who they deem a problem. It’s called shadow banning and what it means is you can  continue posting in a forum but no one other than yourself can see your posts. In other words you have been banned but you are not informed and are not aware because you can see your posts while others cannot.

I noticed that I was no longer getting replies or upvotes for my posts on 9TO5Mac. After playing around and testing I discovered that I have apparently been shadow banned on 9to5Mac. 9to5Mac uses the Disqus commenting system and I saw that if I logged out of Disqus and looked at the comment section my posts were not visible. If I logged back into Disqus my posts suddenly became visible again. This probably happened because of my responses to the Apple hating trolls who cruise that forum. I have tried to contact 9to5Mac management to confirm or deny and whether an appeal process is in place. No response at all. Not that I’m really upset getting banned on a site like 9to5Mac because they have become like MacRumors.

Searching on the topic I discovered that many comment sections are now using shadow banning to control discussions, including Instagram. So have any of you been shadow banned on sites and does anyone know if AppleInsider uses shadow banning?

It seems kind of shitty to me to do this instead just informing the user they are banned and can no longer post. 
SeanD_CO

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,302administrator
    lkrupp said:
    I have recently become aware of a method used by comment sections to censor or deal with users who they deem a problem. It’s called shadow banning and what it means is you can  continue posting in a forum but no one other than yourself can see your posts. In other words you have been banned but you are not informed and are not aware because you can see your posts while others cannot.

    I noticed that I was no longer getting replies or upvotes for my posts on 9TO5Mac. After playing around and testing I discovered that I have apparently been shadow banned on 9to5Mac. 9to5Mac uses the Disqus commenting system and I saw that if I logged out of Disqus and looked at the comment section my posts were not visible. If I logged back into Disqus my posts suddenly became visible again. This probably happened because of my responses to the Apple hating trolls who cruise that forum. I have tried to contact 9to5Mac management to confirm or deny and whether an appeal process is in place. No response at all. Not that I’m really upset getting banned on a site like 9to5Mac because they have become like MacRumors.

    Searching on the topic I discovered that many comment sections are now using shadow banning to control discussions, including Instagram. So have any of you been shadow banned on sites and does anyone know if AppleInsider uses shadow banning?

    It seems kind of shitty to me to do this instead just informing the user they are banned and can no longer post. 
    Does anybody know? I do.

    We don't shadow ban, because there's no point. We do ban, though.
    SeanD_COairnerd
  • Reply 2 of 7
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 2,696member
    Interesting concept although strange. I can't see much point in not being upfront with the affected member.

    In the case of AppleInsider, I get the impression that they are quite tolerant and upfront with things.

    I am a member in a newspaper forum that switched to Disqus years ago and it seemed to be more trouble than it was worth and can't remember the last time I posted there as a result of that switch.
    tallest skil
  • Reply 3 of 7
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    We don't shadow ban
    I’m glad that stopped–and not just because Huddler and Quiller don’t have the ability to do it. :p  Coventry was an interesting concept back in the day, but even my views on speech have changed since then.
    avon b7 said:
    I am a member in a newspaper forum that switched to Disqus years ago and it seemed to be more trouble than it was worth and can't remember the last time I posted there as a result of that switch.
    Disqus is a real shitshow; you’re right. Nearly every site just blocks all comments behind a “moderator approval” request, meaning that only the narrative the site wants shown is ever allowed to be posted. Sometimes it’s a block for all posts, and sometimes it’s a selective block based on keywords (which you can then bypass using diacritics, because fuck censorship).
    pslice
  • Reply 4 of 7
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,391member
    Interesting article about shadow banning from Disqus’ support documents. They refer to it as “discretely banning” someone without their knowledge.

    https://help.disqus.com/customer/en/portal/articles/2804915-shadow-banning
  • Reply 5 of 7
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,630member
    I've heard about that, but haven't run across it (or checked to find out). But, just opening a private browser window can easily test for it.

    Twitter has something almost opposite with their mute function. A while back, a well-known journalist pointed out in his twitter feed how he had muted a bunch of people, and was laughing how they weren't even aware he couldn't see their tweets (I, of course, was included because I don't happen to share said journalists political views). I responded to that tweet pointing out that then I could carry on whole conversations with all of his followers, and he'd simply be blissfully ignorant. :smile:  Of course, that attracted a bunch of laughter and comments.

    Ahh, technology and silliness.

    tallest skil said:
    Disqus is a real shitshow; you’re right. Nearly every site just blocks all comments behind a “moderator approval” request, meaning that only the narrative the site wants shown is ever allowed to be posted. Sometimes it’s a block for all posts, and sometimes it’s a selective block based on keywords (which you can then bypass using diacritics, because fuck censorship). Well, that isn't really a Disqus problem, but more of people who use Disqus moderation problem. For all of it's faults, I still think Disqus is the best comment/forum type technology out there right now, aside from the old-school forum software.

    But, you're absolutely right about how a lot of sites moderate. I've had many of my own comments disappear and seen many others disappear when they point out a flaw in the article's position, facts, or logic. And/or, systems use the 'report' function, which then gets gamed by the hordes of people who can't make a counter-argument, but can amass enough support to take the opposition down. I guess that's how most everything works anymore, come to think of it.
    tallest skil
  • Reply 6 of 7
    lkrupp said:
    Interesting article about shadow banning from Disqus’ support documents. They refer to it as “discretely banning” someone without their knowledge.

    https://help.disqus.com/customer/en/portal/articles/2804915-shadow-banning
    Disqus is shit, even if you are not a spammer or not posting irrelevant stuff they still mark you a spammer and would put a shadow ban. 
    YoRHa
  • Reply 7 of 7
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,630member
    I'm not sure what happened to my comment above (number 5). The formatting got mangled, so you'd have to look at Tallest Skil's post to see where my response begins.

    But, keep in mind that Disqus is both a comment system (which can be applied to sites), as well as their own series of content people interact with. So, if you go to a blog and leave a Disqus based comment, it isn't Disqus who is censoring anything... that is up to the owner of the said blog. If you go to a news site that uses Disqus, the same applies. It isn't Disqus doing the moderation.

    BTW, the downside of Disqus is that as a site owner, you have to pay or have ads (if it is a for-profit site), and it's fairly expensive if you have high-volume. It is pretty cheap, IMO, for lower traffic sites. The downside of Disqus for end users is that like social media, etc. data is aggregated and sold to advertisers. I'm not a big fan of that, but as I said above, I know of no other reasonably good comment system, at least for WordPress sites.

    But, what I think people are really experiencing with all these sites, comment systems... are attempts at AI algos (which are crap)... or 'flag' type systems which often get gamed. That's why Facebook and YouTube, etc. are hiring thousands of human moderators to try and fix the content problem they have with advertisers. There is no easy way to do it at volume.
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