When Facebook first caught on in the early aughts, suggesting that the President of the United States would ever be on the platform would have raised eyebrows. Yet until January 2021, it was hard to imagine that a president would ever be kicked off.
Of course, former President Trump is far from the first person to get banned from Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. You can get banned from social media for any number of reasons, and not just for objectively bad choices like harassment, spam or hate speech.
Maybe you’re from a country with a more relaxed attitude toward nudity than the United States, and weren’t aware of how many Americans are terrified of exposed nipples. Or perhaps you posted content that accidentally mirrored common spam. The truth is, there are many ways that can end up with you unable to access your favorite social media site.
So, if you — the average Joe or Jane — get kicked off a social network platform, what options do you have? More than you might think. If you’ve been banned from Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, this article is your comprehensive guide for getting your profile back.
Banned From Facebook: No More Likes for You
Getting banned from Facebook is sometimes referred to as Facebook Jail. Since Facebook pledged in 2019 to get more serious about creating a friendly community, bans and penalties have increased across the network.
Moderation on Facebook has a messy history. In May 2020, a class-action lawsuit alleged that contractors hired to remove harmful content on the social network were suffering from PTSD from having to view horrific images all day.
Facebook settled the case for $52 million, then applied their usual prescription: more AI. Ideally, algorithms would filter out the truly awful activity, leaving only the marginal cases for human moderators. In practice, artificially intelligent moderation has proven to be difficult to train.
Luckily, if you do get caught up in the AI dragnet, you can appeal your case. Before I get into that, though, it’s important to understand that not all sentences are equal in Facebook Jail.
What Happens When You Get Banned From Facebook?
Broadly, Facebook users can get hit with two different types of bans: from user-run communities or from the network as a whole.
If you get banned by administrators of groups or pages, you can still share content from the page on your own timeline, but you can’t interact with the community itself in any way — no likes, no comments, no posts. Admins can ban users from groups for any reason. There’s no agreement that protects your rights in a user-run community.
If you’ve been suspended or banned by Facebook itself, you’ll discover it when you log in. The severity of penalties varies widely, but they try to ensure that the punishment fits the crime. For example, if the AI thinks you’ve been spamming posts, you’ll be banned from posting.
Your Facebook account can be temporarily suspended for a first offense. A temporary ban lasts up to 21 days. Repeated infractions can get your account shut down permanently. If you think you’re being punished in error, it’s important to appeal the very first time.
How to Get Unbanned From Facebook
Facebook will send you a message informing you of the ban. If you got banned from some features but can still access your Facebook account, the notice will land in your inbox. Otherwise, it’ll go to your email.
No matter how you get the news, it should be accompanied by instructions for appealing the decision. Make sure to read them in full.
If your ban isn’t permanent, the best way to unban yourself is to simply wait. However, this isn’t an option for people who make their living on Facebook Marketplace or rely on Facebook ads to bring in business. If your situation is urgent, it’s time to appeal your ban.
Step by Step: How to Appeal a Facebook Ban
There are two ways to access the appeal page. Either log in to your disabled account and click the blue “Submit Appeal” button on the message that appears, or go to this Facebook appeal link. (Note that the link may not always work — Facebook has left a few appeal links broken over the years).
Once you reach the appeal form, you’ll need to provide Facebook with the following info:
- The email or phone number associated with your Facebook account
- The full name used on your account
- A scanned and uploaded government-issued ID confirming your name
Finally, you’ll hit the “additional info” box. This is where you have the chance to state your case. Briefly but clearly explain why your ban should be revoked, keeping the following tips in mind:
- Use punctuated, grammatically correct English. If you’re a bad writer or a non-native speaker, run it through Grammarly or have a friend help.
- Don’t bother with emotional appeals. These people work at Facebook. They crushed their feelings long ago. Your sob story is more likely to hurt your case than help. Stick to the facts.
- If you’re responsible for your ban, admit it. You may not agree with the policy that got you banned, and that’s fine. Even so, if it’s your fault, apologize and explain why you can be trusted not to do it again. Remember that you don’t have a right to a Facebook profile — you’re a customer, and they can refuse service for any reason.
- If you’re not responsible, say so clearly. This could be the first time a human being has learned about your ban. Human moderators can spot abuse in ways that the AI can’t.
Even if you get banned permanently, you can start over with a new profile. Facebook doesn’t block IP addresses, given how easy they are to change. You’ll need to add all your friends and content all over again, but at least you can stay in touch with people once more.
Banned From Twitter: Zero Character Limit
Twitter holds its users to a few community standards that are mostly uncontroversial. It bans threats of violence, stalking, graphic images and the like. If you’re here seeking to get your Twitter account back after you used it to send someone a death threat, get off our website and go think about all of your life choices.
However, just like on Facebook, it’s easy to get yourself banned from Twitter for something you didn’t know was against the rules. For example, lots of people drive traffic to their blog posts by tweeting the same link multiple times per day. Sometimes a person will tweet the same link from two or three accounts they hold.
Previously, that was fine. Then the rules changed. Suddenly, a bunch of harmless bloggers found themselves suspended for spam.
Twitter is a volatile environment. If you wade onto the 280-character battlefields, you should be prepared to face the ban hammer. Here’s everything you need to know about getting unbanned from Twitter.
What Happens When You Get Banned From Twitter?
Twitter claims that the majority of accounts they suspend are bots, but they admit that real people can get caught in the crossfire. As on Facebook, you can get suspended or banned from Twitter if someone inaccurately reports you as a fake account. Twitter can also suspend your account if they think it’s been hacked.
Also like Facebook, Twitter has some slap-on-the-wrist penalties that they’ll hit offenders with before breaking out a permanent ban.
The first thing they might do is flag a tweet that breaks the rules. If they do this, you’ll get a choice: delete the tweet or appeal the flag, explaining why the rules weren’t actually broken. Unless you genuinely don’t think you made an error, deleting it outright is the best way to stay out of further trouble.
The next step is for Twitter to place your account in read-only mode. You won’t be allowed to tweet for up to a week, although you can see your timeline and exchange DMs with followers. Read-only mode is a temporary time-out for normally law-abiding users who might be having a rough few days.
To get your account permanently banned, you either have to repeatedly break the rules after multiple warnings, or conduct yourself so egregiously one time that Twitter can’t look the other way.
How to Unban Yourself From Twitter
Twitter’s help pages offer the average suspended user hope that they can get their account back.
If your account was suspended because Twitter suspects you’ve been hacked, you’ll be asked to change your password. After that, you’ll get your account back as normal.
For your first violation of the Twitter rules, you can get your account back by completing a simple CAPTCHA to verify that you’re not a bot. Twitter is on constant red alert against bots because of how easy they are to make. Proving you’re flesh and blood is often enough to get you tweeting again.
If your alleged violation was epically serious, or you’ve got repeated poor conduct complaints on your record, the only way to get your account back is to appeal.
Step by Step: How to Appeal a Suspended Twitter Account
To appeal, first log in to your suspended account, then fill out this appeal form.
Our suggestions for Facebook appeals also apply here. Write cleanly, skip the sob story, and if you’re actually at fault, show remorse. Twitter is a business, so you need to explain to them why you’re not a threat to their bottom line — i.e. that you won’t be a recurring menace who drives other users away.
Banned From YouTube: You’re off the Air
Prior to 2020, Belle Delphine was probably best known for selling her bathwater to fans. But last year, she racked up mentions by becoming a pro at getting banned from things. In July, Delphine lost her Instagram. In November, her YouTube channel was briefly taken down, then reinstated. She’s also banned from TikTok.
Delphine is an interesting case because she’s not like the other people you see getting banned. She didn’t deny the Holocaust, beat her partner on camera, or call for any politicians to be drawn and quartered.
All her troubles come from posting sexual content. Whatever you think of her, you have to admit she’s got a point: it’s weird for YouTube to find the video for “WAP” acceptable but declare that her activity somehow crosses a line.
Personally, I think YouTube intended to keep Delphine’s channel banned for good, but backtracked when hit with public outcry. But what if you get banned from YouTube and don’t have a horde of thirsty gamers ready to take up arms for your cause?
What Happens When YouTube Suspends Your Account?
YouTube can suspend both channels and accounts. Your account can get locked if you’re found to have a history of abusive comments, or if it’s found that the entire purpose of the account or channel is to do abusive things.
For your first violation — unless it’s extremely bad (stalking or preying on someone) — you’ll get a warning. For a second violation, you’ll get your first strike, which means you can’t upload content for a week.
Strike records disappear after 90 days. If you get a second strike while your first strike is still on your record, you’ll be banned from posting for two weeks. Three strikes means a permanent removal.
It’s also possible, if one of your videos is right on the border of a policy violation, that YouTube will limit its features instead of giving you a full strike. Limited features means the video is still online and visible, but it’s slapped with a warning message and stripped of comments, suggestions and ads.
One last note: YouTube considers copyright violations to be separate from content violations. If you get a copyright strike by posting content that mirrors someone else’s without crediting them, you’ll have to complete a training course before getting your privileges back. Three strikes in either category will get you a ban.
Step by Step: How to Unban Yourself From YouTube
If you get a strike, you’ll receive notifications explaining why. The first thing to not do here is delete the offending video. That won’t remove the strike.
You can appeal a strike by visiting your dashboard, selecting “channel violations,” and clicking “appeal.” If your video got appealed without a strike, find that video in your creator studio, look for the “restrictions” column, mouse over the restriction, and click “appeal.”
Write out the reason you think YouTube made a mistake. As before, take time to really think about whether the error was on your end. If you’ve reviewed the guidelines repeatedly and still don’t think the reasons for your strike make sense, write a concise paragraph explaining why. You can only appeal each strike once, so don’t send until you’re ready.
YouTube staff will review the appeal. If they agree with your argument, you’ll be unbanned immediately, and the strike will be gone from your record. If they don’t, there’s no further penalty (though I still recommend against insulting their mothers during your appeal).
In some cases, they might decide the content is fine, but not for all audiences. They’ll put your video back with an 18+ age restriction, which also makes it invisible to people who are not signed in.
How to Appeal Copyright Strikes
Copyright strikes are a little different. You’ve got two options: get the person who made the claim of copyright infringement against you to retract it, or submit a counter notification arguing that you didn’t violate their copyright.
If you plan to submit a counter notification, think about whether your video qualifies for a “Fair Use” exemption. In the United States, it’s OK to use somebody else’s content for journalism, criticism, parody or education. However, “Fair Use” is not a magic spell — it’s determined case by case. If you aren’t sure, have a lawyer look at your video first.
Final Thoughts: Banned From Your Favorite Sites or Apps
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads, in part: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.” For better or for worse, that doesn’t apply to everything you say. The government isn’t allowed to restrict speech in public, but social media sites — despite how public they feel — are still technically private spaces.
What do you think of our guide on how to avoid the Facebook, Twitter and YouTube bans? Have you ever been struck by the ban hammer? Do you think the bans are fair? Tell us all about it, and thanks for reading.