If you’re big into social media you’ve likely heard of the Instagram Shadowban before. You’ve probably seen your friends or favorite creators complaining about it. For those who haven’t, it’s essentially when Instagram reportedly still allows you to use Instagram including publishing content, but the platform stifles your reach and content views. Your content won’t be seen on the Explore Page or through used Hashtags. And chances are your Stories won’t appear on your follower’s main page.
Shadowban isn’t an official Instagram term. In fact, Instagram denies such a practice. But many users have experienced a shadowban to some extent. So it is all just a myth, or is there a wider cover up happening here? With such a lack of clarity surrounding shadowbans, it can be unsettling for creators and business owners trying to grow their brands and reach new audiences. So let’s take a deeper look into the notorious Instagram shadowban.
Instagram Shadowban: Is It Real?
As mentioned above Instagram has never come out and admitted to shadowbans. But just because the platform hasn’t acknowledged its existence, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. In fact many Instagram users can show proof, statistics and screenshots which may prove otherwise.
Accounts that are “shadowbanned” seems to experience slightly different issues with their content. For some their latest posts are undiscoverable via hashtags used. Others are told by followers that their Instagram Stories don’t appear on their feeds. And in some cases users have reported being unable to search for profiles unless the full username is typed out.
Everyone tell @tmz that @instagram is muting my voice please. I’ve had over 50 complaints about how followers can no longer find me. Or posts they commented on and their comments removed. I thought we were supposed to be #amplifymelenatedvoices not continuing to silence them.
— Mehcad (@MehcadBrooks) June 4, 2020
What does Instagram have to say about all of this? Well in 2018 they came out and denied the practice of shadowbanning. They stated they do not hide or hinder anyone’s content. Just a year later in 2019 they seemed to slightly change their tune. They acknowledged they would not feature accounts or posts on the Explore Page that they consider “inappropriate for the community”. Even if they don’t violated the platforms terms and conditions.
So it seems as though while shadowbanning is not a used terms at Instagram, there are guidelines in place to restrict certain content. The question remains what exactly is the criteria and who is making the decisions to restrict content or profiles.
Instagram Shadowban: How to Prevent It
Your Instagram account could be shadowbanned for a variety of reasons. Instagram doesn’t give a clear answer on this other than “inappropriate for the community”. So it can be hard to gauge what could potentially affect your account. It’s essentially an undetermined borderline between acceptable content and violating community terms. While it can be hard to navigate, there is a few things you can do (or not do) to avoid this experience.
1. Do not use bots or automate your account.
This is not only a great way to potentially get shadowbanned, but maybe even banned off Instagram. Avoid using services that require access to your account logins, which generally use account automation.
2. Use relevant hashtags and avoid blacklisted ones.
Just because Instagram allows for 30 hashtags, doesn’t mean you have to fill that quota. Sticking to using as few hashtags has possible ensures that you’re sticking to ones that are relevant to your content. Also be aware of blacklisted hashtags. Those can be a little harder to spot. Searching for a hashtag on the Explore Page is the best way to check if it’s blacklisted.
3. Be genuine with your engagement.
If you’re commenting on other’s content, be sure to avoid generic spam sounding comments. Instead take the time to read their captions and comment with something relevant and authentic.
4. Publish your content yourself.
It might be tempting to use a post scheduler or 3rd party publishing tool to help stay organized. But these tools might be causing your account more harm than actual good.
5. Take time off Instagram.
The best thing you can do for your account health is to take a break from it. While it might seem like always being online and active is a good thing, too much can seem inauthentic and even automated.
Instagram Shadowban: How to Remove It
So you’re experiencing an shadowban on Instagram. You’re not getting the engagement and reach you’re used to even though you’re following community guidelines. This can especially be a problem if you use Instagram for your brand, be it as a creator or business. Unfortunately there aren’t set guidelines as to how long a shadowban will affect your account, or how to officially remove one. However there are somethings you can do to improve your account health, and get it back to where it once was.
1. Report your shadowban to Instagram.
Before doing that, check to see that you haven’t recently had a post taken down or flagged for it’s content. Users can now check this information out with the new “Account Status” feature. If you don’t have any infringements, you can report a problem to Instagram. To do this go to Help in your account settings. An option to “Report a Problem” should appear and from there you can submit a report.
2. Disconnect all apps that use automation.
We know how helpful automation apps can be to your daily workflow. Especially for those managing multiple accounts, having a tool that self-publishes for you takes one thing off your to do list. Unfortunately sometimes automation can trigger Instagram to presume your account is not managed by a real person. To review all connected apps simply head to Security in your Instagram settings. There you’ll find “Apps and Websites” where you can review all accounts connected to your Instagram.
3. Audit your used hashtags.
Your hashtags might be doing more harm than good when it comes to your reach. So it’s important that you take the time to review the ones you’ve used to see if they’re a part of the problem. To do this, go to the Explore Page and search for each hashtag. If nothing but the top posts appear, this could be a sign that this particular hashtag is blacklisted. Also at times Instagram might include a disclaimer explaining that posts using this hashtag are being hidden for violating community guidelines. Generally this occurs when hashtags are being used for spam by other accounts on the platform.
4. Take a mini hiatus from Instagram.
Sometimes your account just needs a little cool off period to reset itself. Some users who have dealt with shadowbans report that taking a mini hiatus for a few days drastically helped. This means no publishing, engaging and even using the app at all. After your break you’re free to return to using the app like you would. Just be sure that your manual usage doesn’t appear to be automated, so go slow. Also, some users have mentioned that once you return from you break it may take a couple days for your engagement and reach to return to pre-shadowban levels. This simply has to do with the fact that Instagram rewards accounts that are consistently active.