Instagram shadowban: What it is and how to stop it
The ability to share snippets of your life while connecting to people from all corners of the world is what makes Instagram the popular and inclusive social platform that it is. But when the entirety of that connection depends on the visibility of your content, what happens if no one can see it?
What is a shadowban on Instagram?
Shadowbanning is defined as the act of blocking a user’s content on social media sites in such a way that the user doesn’t know that the block is happening. If this happens to you, you will get no alert or notification of your banned status; your posts will just start to get fewer and fewer views.
Instagram has never outright admitted to shadowbanning certain accounts. However, the social media giant did release a statement in February that addressed users’ concerns that their posts weren’t showing up under certain hashtags.
“We understand users have experienced issues with our hashtag search that caused posts to not be surfaced. We are continuously working on improvements to our system with the resources available,” the statement read.
However, Instagram didn’t mention the use of shadowbanning. Instead, it encouraged users to focus on their business objectives rather than hashtags.
What happens when you get shadowbanned on Instagram?
When you get shadowbanned on Instagram, your content is strategically hidden from other users — especially when it comes to hashtags.
If you’ve been using hashtags to increase your audience and get new followers and you get shadowbanned, your stories and posts will stop appearing under those hashtags. Only your followers will be able to see your content.
All of this causes your engagement (likes, comments, and new followers) to drop.
Is an Instagram shadowban permanent?
While getting your content blocked from new followers sounds like it could be the beginning of the end of the world, there is some good news: Instagram’s shadowban is not permanent.
How long does an Instagram shadowban last?
Once you’ve figured out that you’re under a shadowban (which we’ll cover how to do in more detail later), you can start actively working to fix it. The Instagram marketing platform Later reports that most users have their shadowban statuses successfully lifted within just 2 to 3 weeks.
Handling Instagram shadowban
Whether it’s online or in real life, no one likes being banned from anything. While the situation may feel ominous and seemingly impossible to remedy, getting rid of an Instagram shadowban is simply a matter of following the rules. The trick is figuring out if you’re really banned or not.
How to know if you’re shadowbanned on Instagram
The idea behind shadowbanning is that the user isn’t supposed to know they’ve been shadowbanned. However, there are a few things you can do to find out your status:
- Find 3 to 5 accounts that don’t follow you.
- Ask them to see if your post appears under a certain hashtag you used. For this experiment, it’s best to use a smaller hashtag that doesn’t feature 1 million posts.
- Gather all their findings.
If these accounts can see your post, then you’re not shadowbanned, and it’s more likely that you’re just experiencing a little dip in engagement. However, if none of the people you asked can find your post, then you’re probably shadowbanned.
If you’re uncomfortable asking strangers to help you with this experiment, you could have your friends unfollow your account and then look for your post under a certain hashtag. You could also create a new Instagram account and look for yourself. The only thing that matters here is that the account looking for your post doesn’t already follow you.
Recently, Instagram has doubled down on taking action against content that violates its guidelines. As a result, there are now services that can analyze your account to see if it’s been shadowbanned.
Triberr offers an Instagram shadowban test. All you have to do is:
- Go to Triberr.com.
- Type your username into the box.
- Press Analyze.
The test will go over your last 10 posts and analyze those with hashtags. This will determine if the hashtag you used was “safe,” “failed/not found,” or “banned.” It does not analyze posts without hashtags.
Why did I get shadowbanned on Instagram?
Instagram has openly discussed its plan to rid the platform of “sexual content” that violates their guidelines. Instagram’s Community Guidelines prohibit posting the following:
- Posting content that’s not authentically yours (i.e., it’s been “copied or collected from the internet”)
- Impersonating another person online
- Posting nudity
- Posting content that glorifies breaking the law
- Harassment, threats, or hate speech
- Glorifying self-injury or graphic violence
Anyone found to be in violation of these guidelines — which is at Instagram’s discretion — will be shadowbanned.
While those are the official guidelines for users, there may be other reasons for shadowbanning. For instance, Instagram frowns upon using paid service bots that grow your followers or services that schedule and post to your account for you.
Instagram might also shadowban an account that is exceeding the app’s daily and hourly limits for actions you can take. Limits depend on the age of your account, but you usually can’t exceed 150 likes, 60 comments, or 60 follows/unfollows per hour. If you do exceed the limit, Instagram will send you a notification and temporarily block you from following any more people.
Another potential reason for shadowbanning is that your account keeps being reported. That sends a clear sign to Instagram that you might be violating the guidelines.
However, probably the most common reason for shadowbanning is the use of broken or abused hashtags. When Instagram stated that it was cracking down regarding its policy of no nudity, many hashtags were deemed “banned.” No matter how innocent it may seem, using just one of the banned hashtags can put you under the spell of a shadowban.
In order to see if a hashtag has been banned, do the following:
- Click on the hashtag.
- If only the “Top Post” section appears, it’s been banned.
Occasionally, Instagram will leave a message on the hashtag page that says recent posts have been hidden for not meeting the community guidelines.
How to avoid Instagram shadowban
Even though it’s not impossible to pull yourself out of the depths of a shadowban, it’s still annoying and is best avoided if you can help it.
If you want to avoid having your account shadowbanned, the first thing you should do is familiarize yourself with Instagram’s Community Guidelines. That way, you can make sure your posts aren’t violating the platform’s rules.
Here are more suggestions for keeping your account in the clear:
- Avoid using banned hashtags.
- Remove any banned hashtags from older posts.
- Stop buying followers or engaging in “any sort of automated activity.”
- Don’t exceed Instagram’s activity limits.
- Avoid using the same hashtags over and over (even if they aren’t on the banned list).
If you follow those tips and ensure that you’re operating under Instagram’s guidelines, your account should be safe.
How to stop being shadowbanned
If you think your account has been shadowbanned, don’t worry. In addition to cleaning up your page with the previous tips, there are a couple of other things you can do to free your account from its virtual chains.
For example, going “cold turkey” and reducing your Instagram activity significantly can help lift a ban. In fact, users who signed off for three days after a shadowban found that their accounts were back to normal when they returned. You could also try removing hashtags from a recent post or removing hashtags from a comment under your post (a practice used by many). Changing up hashtags and keeping them in captions also seems to help lift many shadowbans.
If you’ve tried all of these tricks to no avail, you can always report a problem to Instagram. Here’s how:
- Go to your Profile.
- Tap the three horizontal lines on the top-right of the screen.
- Settings > Help > Report A Problem.
- Select “Something isn’t working.”
Many users found that after they did this repeatedly, Instagram eventually lifted the shadowban.
While many people still view shadowbanning as a myth, enough users have experienced it to confirm that it is a legitimate problem. Whether you’re experiencing the effects of a shadowban yourself or just want to prevent your account from being targeted, following the tips and tricks laid out in this article will help keep your account in the clear.