Social Media

How to Get Banned on Social Media Networks

You’ve lost your account…it’s gone. You can’t log in. All your activity has been erased. You didn’t get an email, not even a warning. You’ve emailed the site a number of times, and nobody will tell you why you’re now a blacklisted member of your favorite social media network.

This is a common tale… all too common, in fact. Some social sites are better than others, but the truth is: most administrators don’t have the time to explain why they deleted your account. You’d be lucky if they even know the reason in the first place. Most likely it’s not a single act, but a number of user submitted complaints that puts your account beyond some threshold they’ve set as a matter of policy. Reach this threshold, and you’re gone…no research to determine the validity of the complaints, no explanation, and a snowball’s chance in hell of getting your account back.

Ok, so while it’s not completely impossible to get a banned account back, certain social sites just don’t bother. And depending on what you did to get banned, you might be wasting your time. In either case, it’s much less frustrating to just play it safe so you don’t get blacklisted in the first place. So here are 9 things that will get you banned that you should try to avoid:

  1. Break the terms of service – Let’s start with the obvious. If you don’t want to get banned, the first thing you need to do is read the terms of service. Read it for serious. Done? Ok, now read it again. My point is: make sure you really understand what they’re trying to prevent.

     

    Legally, most terms of service allow social sites to remove your account for any reason, and they (usually) directly say as much. But they’ll also go into some specific items that they’re actively looking for. Break any of these, and you’ll find yourself starting from scratch. I’ll cover many of the more common items below, but if you want to know what your favorite social network is specifically looking for, I highly recommend starting here.

  2. Spam – Another obvious one, but somehow people don’t quite get it. Attempting to automate submissions, Votes, Reddits, comments, Diggs, etc. will almost always end up in a banning. If there’s one thing people hate more than human generated spam, it’s computer generated spam. That goes double –no triple for social sites.
  3. Self Promotion – I’m not talking about submitting or linking to content you’ve created. I’m talking about going on to other social conversations or threads and trying to cross promote or garner attention to your submission when it isn’t relevant. Link dropping is SOMETIMES ok (read the terms) if it’s directly related to the conversation, but rarely tolerated when it’s not. And it’s DEFINITELY something that can get you banned.
  4. Submitting Link Bait or Promotional content – Link bait is a (double) 4-letter-word in the social media world. People hate it, and if you’re caught being a marketer, or worse yet: an SEO, there’s nothing that can inspire someone to report you as a spammer quicker. Just be sure you are careful what you submit and if you’re doing it for the links and/or promotion, take great care to be sure the content is worthy of the votes.
  5. Un-natural voting/promotion – A common story (you might have heard) is the “clever” marketing agency with 200 employees all voting for a submission from the same office at the same time. If you think large sites like Digg and Reddit don’t have filters to identify geo-locations of your IP (and other un-natural indicators), you’d be wrong. In fact, if you’re involved in any schemes like this, you’re making it too easy for them. Nothing can get 200 accounts simultaneously banned easier than this scenario.
  6. Submit/link to inappropriate/offensive content – Nudity and explicit violence are rarely tolerated, and whenever you feel compelled to use the acronym “NSFW”, think twice before you submit it or link to it. More than likely, someone will find it offensive and report you as such. If an admin gets enough reports like this, the next time you sign in, it’ll be under another user name.

    Note: Some sites like Reddit and Stumble Upon do allow adult content, but there are specific sections for it. Make sure to use these sections and/or mark it as adult content if what you are sharing is too racy or NSFW.

  7. Trolling – It usually takes a lot for comments to get you banned. Down votes aren’t generally enough, but they’ll certainly make you look like a troll to the rest of the community. While joining in on the social conversation (in comment boards and threads) can be a great way to network, try not to be offensive, abrasive, and definitely don’t get involved in a “flame” war. It’s too easy for someone who didn’t like what you said to simply report you as offensive. Even if it isn’t true, trust me, you’d rather just not go there. Also, remember: just because you think you’re being funny doesn’t mean others will. “Offensive” (in terms of comments) is a matter of interpretation.

  8. Consistently submitting or linking to low quality content – While you probably won’t get banned for having too many down votes, some members of your social network believe it’s their job to take the “bury” button one step further and report you as a spammer. A single report probably won’t get you banned, but if you get enough of them, you’ll cross that threshold and it’s over.

    If you’re submitting content from commercial sites make sure that A. the content is worthy, and B. you’re submitting high quality content from elsewhere on a regular basis to dilute any of such reports that may happen.

  9. Be too good at Digg or Reddit – Don’t worry, most sites won’t get banned for being a power user…that’s an unfortunate myth. What happens, however, is when you’ve become noticed as being “too good” you’ll get away with a LOT less. In effect, all the above points become more important to avoid. Make one slip and the bury brigade will be all over you.

    Another problem with being a power user is: you might be able to use the power of your network to promote “less than worthy” content to the front page. When this happens, not only will the submission get buried, but it’ll usually cause an influx of those nasty spam reports. If you’re finding yourself on a list like this one, it’s time to tread carefully. You may also want to have a back-up account…just in case.

If you’ve been banned and you were looking for a way to get your account back, my advice is this: email the site administrator and beg for forgiveness. You can use this email as a template:

Dear [Social Website] Admin,

I’m having trouble logging into my account. It looks as though it may have been removed???

I’m not sure what happened, but if I have done something wrong I truly apologize. I have read the terms of service and am very careful to follow them to the T.

I don’t know if there is anything I can do to get my account back, but I’d love to at the very least know what I did so I can be sure to avoid that activity in the future.

Please let me know if there’s anything I can do!

Thanks in advance,

[BannedUser]

If you’re lucky: they may tell you what you did, send you to the terms of service page again so you can re-accept it, and you’ll get your account back. Just know, this is pretty rare, and if you’re lucky enough to get an account turned back on, it probably won’t be a recurring event.

Have a story about being banned? Tell it in the comments; I’d love to hear it!

Todd Heim is CEO, co-founder, and SEO manager of Essential Internet Marketing, LLC, an SEM and Social Media Marketing company based in Albany, NY.  You can find Todd on twitter at: http://twitter.com/ToddHeim/

 

 

 How to Get Banned on Social Media Networks

Todd Heim

Todd Heim is CEO, co-founder, and SEO manager of Essential Internet Marketing, LLC, an SEM and Social Media Marketing company based in Albany, NY.

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13 thoughts on “How to Get Banned on Social Media Networks

  1. Hey Todd, I guess I was considered a troller, lol, Social Networking sites should be just for that, networking. Linkedin cut my ability to had friends though they didn’t close my account simply because I was sending friend request, of course they weren’t friends I knew. Seriously though, networking. I kept to only business related folks. Wheres the social in social media.. Thats my bitch for today.

    1. To some people, there’s a fine line between “networking” and “spamming”. Some members of LinkedIn simply won’t appreciate getting a friends request from someone they’ve never met or done business with, they’ll interpret it as spam, and consequently submit a spam report.

      Walking the line means being careful who you contact and how you approach them so you DON’T come across as a spammer. Perhaps you simply need to work on your introduction, or perhaps you need(ed) to be more selective on who you’re contacting…

  2. Todd — thanks for the information. I’ve never been banned, knock on wood. Though I don’t consider myself a big user of social media as I’m still trying to create a presence for me and my company.

    At least now I know what to avoid, but all in all, it seems like common sense and respect for other businesses and people. Odd how that seems to have fallen with the rise of the virtual world.

  3. Hello ,
    It is strange that you say all this. I just joined Blog engage, and hardly used the account while in just one day my account was deleted .. I have no idea what to do with it now..
    I think so I will try to send the email you have said in this post.Thanks for the help

  4. Sounds like too many restrictions designed to keep marketers out of the game but it sounds like a good plan to keep the purity of social networks. My beef is with those who build 1,000 accounts via automation and then just send out stupid affiliate links with the hope that people will buy crap as if they can’t use Google to search for stuff. Yet, some marketers do provide a few good things, but that’s the exception not the rule.

  5. I guess this can all be boiled down into a couple of rules: 1. Don’t try to game the system – it won’t work since there are potentially thousands of referees watching. 2. Be real – be yourself. Post about things that matter to you and don’t be self-promotional. I live by these creeds, and so far so good.

    1. Then again, no offense, while there are spammers that we’ve heard of, I’d never heard of you before this post.

      The value of those networks is in being known to people who wouldn’t otherwise be aware of you or your company. So the summary is simply to stand out, but not too much.

  6. I was banned from Sphinn twice. Before I was banned the first time, I wrote a post which the moderators didn’t appreciate, yet it went to the hot page with, if I remember correctly, over 50 votes. It was removed. Rob Kerry banned me when a post I had written was submitted by another Sphinn user who was always causing me grief. Even though I didn’t submit the post myself, or ask anyone else to submit it, I was removed for a year.

    The second time just happened within a few days ago. I had reentered Sphinn and never submitted my own posts. I submitted one post from an industry leaders website. No TOS violations, no comments on their website, nada, I wasn’t warned. Just banned again. Not only that, but my IP was banned so I have been denied public viewing access. That may even be a violation of citizen rights, not sure, have to check on that with EFF.

  7. Personally, I think far too much import is placed on not offending the almighty admins. Just start up another account, be a bit more low-key this time, and move on. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t have that account (or another) with that social network. Hopefully one’s efforts and abilities are broader, not contingent upon the approval of the gods of that one network.

  8. I have been using social media to promote content on my blog for more than a year now. Although most of the links I submit are to my own blog, I ensure I write quality content on my blog only. As such I have not been banned from any of the sites yet. I think this proves that it is Ok to use social media to promote your own content as far as your content is unique and well written.

  9. Hi, nice to know there are others who think about this topic.

    Has anyone noticed the increased trend of people getting banned inetntionally? I’m all for it, as long as it’s done it good taste and humour. I imagine there are people who dislike Facebook, Twitter etc, but instead of avoiding them, they try and push the boundaries of the social network rulebook. It took a friend of mine about 8 months of trying before they were banned, without being malicious, nasty, abusive or anti-social. I guess it takes a lot of effort to get banned without going down the obvious road. Any thoughts?

    There are also plenty of people who are getting banned from the networks because the administrators are taking their ‘rulebooks’ too literally. Would you class this as opression? Maybe not on an individual level, but what if it involves groups or an entire population?

    Maha

  10. Wow, I have never thought about it this way. Not that it ever happened to me. I just didn't realize how little it takes to break the rules here. I'll have to watch myself, just in case.