Turn to Tara: Allegations of ‘shadow banning’ spark censorship concerns on social media platforms

As tensions and violence persist internationally, many individuals in the tristate area are turning to social media platforms for community connection and a platform to voice their concerns. However, the Turn to Tara investigation team has found that a growing number of users are now alleging that major social media companies are censoring their posts—a practice known as "shadow banning."
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul recently called upon social media giants like TikTok and Instagram to better regulate hate speech on their platforms. However, numerous social media posters have claimed that their content is being erroneously labeled as "hateful."
Hillary Goldstein, a Stamford resident and mother, shared her experience of being banned from posting on Instagram after she simply posted an emoji of an Israeli flag on a post that had anti-Semitic undertones. Minutes later, Goldstein found herself restricted from commenting, posting pictures, or sharing videos on the platform.
Kris Ruby, a nationally recognized social media expert, shed light on the issue, saying with machine learning and monitoring, it is easy for some posts to slip through the tracks . Ruby says that especially during times of conflict, there's often a tendency to apply broad classifiers to content.  “When you have something as tragic what we're seeing with this type of war, the initial instinct is to sort of put that blanket classifier on top of all content "If the flag is seen with a specific set of words or a string of words that are deemed to be associated with hate. It could sometimes be getting incorrectly flagged"
Users have reported being notified of temporary bans, while others have experienced reduced visibility and engagement without any explanation or warning, ranging from political content to alleged violations involving sensitive content.
Meta, the parent company of Instagram, did not respond to queries about the criteria used to ban content. However, Ruby advised affected users to use reporting mechanisms provided by the platforms, update apps, or even consider taking a break from social media to potentially reset restrictions.
The ongoing issue of social media censorship has raised concerns about free speech and content moderation, prompting users to seek ways to combat unfair bans and regain access to their platforms. Other experts say you could also consider taking a break from social media altogether.