Social media can be a boon to many people…just for general chit-chat and for businesses, the quickest, least expensive way of getting their products seen by the World. Since there is a plethora of social medias out there which cater to the business owner, we are spoilt for choice. We have Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and Twitter to name a few. But, what you might not know is, with all the good this can bring to you in your business, it has a dark and despicable downside as well. It’s called “ghost banning” and I call it the modern-day Witchfinder General.

No, it has relatively nothing at all to do with real witches. Or, at least, it should not do, as that would clearly be bigotry. What it does have to do with is that any of the social medias we so happily flog our wares on to be seen by all and sundry can just as easily make us un-seen…or “ghosts”, if you will.

Take for example, Twitter. If you’re a seasoned Twitter business owner, you might do what is known as Twitter hours. If you don’t know, the Twitter hours are designed by certain business folk on Twitter to help business owners meet other business owners and retweet their products as well as follow each other. I’ve used these hours myself with great results but these days I’ve not bothered as I am one of the un-seen. I am ghost-banned.

Allow me to try to explain in simplest of terms that I can what happens during a Twitter hour when you are ghost-banned. Most people attending these hours will use a specific hashtag in order to stand out from other businesses tweeting at the same time. That hashtag, or hashtags, notifies other participants of that hour that you wish to have your business tweet retweeted. Not all participants, but most, will do a Twitter search on the hashtag being used to pull up all the tweets coming through during that hour with that specific hashtag. It just makes life a bit easier for us so we don’t have to try to catch them as they fly through in our normal mode of viewing tweets. Let’s say we are in #HandmadeCatToysHour (yes, it’s too long but it’s an example, after all). All businesses participating during this hour will hashtag their business tweets with #handmadecattoyshour. If they’re Twitter-savvy, they will do a Twitter search to pull up only the tweets which has that hashtag. Then, they can “see” all the participants whom are tweeting with that hashtag. Easy peasy!

But not so for those of us whom have been ghost-banned. We might as well be on the Moon for all the good it will do to be there, hashtag or not. No one will see our tweets in this setting. Yes, people on the “outside”…the ones looking at their normal tweet “browser” or “tweet deck” ..all the tweets which go by, if they follow you, they WILL physically see your tweets – but that will be whether you are employing a hashtag or not. If they so choose, they might wish to retweet you manually (click the mouse). But the folk congregated in a #HandmadeCatToysHour browser will NOT see you. They will, however, see you ONLY if you personally address them such as “@cattoysrus, have you seen my new Moggy Mat? What do you think? http://www.catmats.com #HandmadeCatToysHour” (yes, I am certain I went over 140 characters, I’m only a writer! I’m taking artistic licence!)

This is the bane of the ghost-banned. We can tweet, we can get new followers, we can follow others (unless blocked), we can be “seen” in normal tweet browsing by our followers, as well as to be “manually” (when somebody sees our tweet and retweets it from normal circumstances) retweeted but if we’re in a Twitter hour or if you retweet our hashtag from a 3rd party app such as Roundteam, we are non-existent. So, if you are business owner and find you aren’t being retweeted as much as you once were, you might want to have a follower perform this check for you. You can also sign out of your business account and sign into your personal account to perform this action.
1. Type from:twitternick into search. This is only showing the format of what you must type. You must replace “twitternick” with your own Twitter nick. For myself I would type from:SpeakingofWytch (from : SpeakingofWytch spreading it out a bit so you can see the colon in there).
2. You will be brought to the page that says “Top Tweets/All Tweets”. Are your tweets populated in this area? Or, as with me, do you hear crickets chirping? You will see a blank space saying “no results”.
3. You’ve been ghost-banned. This is why your tweets have dwindled to few or non-existent.
Do not try this from the account you are checking. It will show you as being there. You must check from a different account.

my Twitter account

For the business owner, this can be a huge loss of revenue as so many of us are using Twitter these days to get our products seen. Retweets are necessary for all the views and visits to our websites we can get…hopefully turning into sales.
When I first began noticing this on Boxing Day 2015, it was sporadic…sometimes I was retweeted as normal, then other times, not. I am fairly certain my visibility was off and on for around a week. After a friend on Twitter Googled @SpeakingofWytch, she found something about I had been “blocked” and Twitter and the 5th of January 2016. No more information than that! And there might have possibly been more info but if they used robot.txt then it could be why clicking the strange link appended to this ground-breaking news is not forth-coming with information.

So, you might have guessed. I am not best pleased. Obviously this has put not only a huge complication on being seen by the right buyers for my wares on Twitter but it has taken much of my precious little time to research this problem and to try to find answers. I would like to say Twitter is helpful but sadly, no. They have only two answers as to why you might no longer be searchable. One is, if you haven’t been actively using your Twitter account for a period of time. Or, they believe you are a spam account or just sending out spam. On Twitter’s Help website they have many “helps” for suspended accounts but you won’t find a sausage about when you are ghost-banned. It is a rather cowardly way (in my estimation) of telling you that they don’t like whatever it is you’ve done (or haven’t done) and they are putting you on the naughty step, yet at the same time allowing you to play. With your hands tied. Problem is, they don’t tell you why you’ve been naughty, nor do they tell you if and when they will deem you fit to play with others fully again. Meanwhile, sit here, take the crayons and colouring in book but wear these handcuffs. There’s a good lass.

I have made many attempts at getting Twitter’s help to no avail. A friend on Twitter gave me a link to a “form” to send in to the Help folk explaining my plight in 500 characters or less (this sort of gives me the first clue that they might not care). Once you’ve done this and click the submission button, you get a cheery “thank you for this. It will help us to help others but we probably won’t do f all for you and we probably won’t write to you about it, either”. No, this is not the exact wording but it is close enough and it might as well say it because it is what it means. This is my second clue that they *probably* don’t care.

Now I’m just getting sarky. And, when you need help, being sarcastic is not the way to go. But then, three “tickets” to Twitter and the occasional plea to @Support hasn’t helped, either. I really do wish they would give me the chance to defend myself and to put right my supposed wrongs. What if I were ghost-banned on accident? Probably not, still, why am I not allowed my day in “court”, but a killer is?

If anybody reading this can provide an easier way, I am open to all suggestions. I never thought being a witch in this day and age would be as it was 500+/- years ago. But, clearly, we still have a form of “Witchfinder General” in the shadows….and if you’re caught (whatever it is you’re doing wrong, but you shall never know) you won’t be drowned or burned, at least. But, you will be ghost-banned. Good luck and here is hoping it doesn’t happen to you!

Links on how NOT to get ghost-banned:

Am I Being Blocked from Twitter *Search*? (Weekly Q&A)

https://blog.kissmetrics.com/ghost-banning-phenomenon/

ghostbanned