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CDT Research, Free Expression

Survey Instrument & Raw Results Data – Shedding Light on Shadowbanning

Accompanying the publication of CDT’s research report, Shedding Light on Shadowbanning, we are also providing the details and data from our national survey of social media users. The survey was conducted by Edge Research.

It is important to note that, as with any opinion survey, we are able to explore how many social media users perceive themselves as having been shadowbanned, but not how many have actually been shadowbanned. Shadowbanning, by nature, can almost never be completely confirmed by the user who is experiencing it.

Survey Questionnaire

The aim of the survey was to find out how many believed they had experienced what we call shadowbanning and what their experiences were like. In the survey, this was described as “When a social media user’s profile or one or more of their posts or comments are blocked from public view or from other users’ feeds by the social media platform, even though it appears to that person that they are still posting as usual.” More specifically, we asked about experiences of perceived shadowbanning, reasons why it might have happened, how it looked in practice, perceived impacts, options for recourse, attitudes towards the practice, and demographic data. The full questionnaire can be found here.  

Survey Data

This was a nationally representative survey of social media users in the U.S and was administered in English, between November and December 2021. Our sample consisted of 1205 people with the results weighted based on age, race, and gender. The survey also included an additional oversample of “perceived shadow banned” respondents to ensure a substantive n-size for additional analyses. The sample can be described as follows:

Social Media Base sampleShadow Banned Over sampleTotal
Shadow Banned in Last Year93181274
Not Shadow Banned91318931

The survey respondents were drawn from an online panel which was constructed using the following steps:

  • Base sample of n=1,006 social media users who use social media a few times a week or more (Q1=1-3 in the survey).
  • An oversample to reach n=274 of those who believe they have been shadow-banned in last year [(Q8=5 OR 6) AND (Q9B OR C = 1-5)].
  • Age 18 to 70.  
  • Quotas were set by gender, age, and race on the social media sample. 
  • Weights were applied to the shadowbanned oversample to match gender, age, and race of the shadowbanned that naturally occurred in the base sample.

The survey data is available here in SPSS format and as a csv file (download). A few notes about the data set:

  • We removed any variable that contained potentially identifiable personal information, including those with open ended responses. We also removed variables created during the analysis but not part of the survey questions, such as those used during the administration of the survey. 
  • One additional variable we added is “weight.” As noted earlier, weights were applied to the shadowbanned oversample to match gender, age, and race of the shadowbanned that fell out naturally from the base sample. Therefore, this variable should be applied before conducting any analysis on the data. 
  • We added a variable called “Quota_survey,” which is a categorical variable used to identify those who perceive being shadowbanned and everyone else. 
  • Thus, all the other variables in the data set are linked to questions in the survey and are labeled as such.

If you have questions about the survey questions or data please contact us at [email protected].