Have you experienced a drop in engagement on Instagram? Has your content stopped appearing under hashtags? You might be impacted by something called an Instagram shadowban.

Many users are reporting that this mysterious phenomenon is affecting the visibility of their accounts.  

If you think you’ve been Instagram shadowbanned, or you’re just curious about it, keep on reading! We’ll cover exactly what it is, whether it’s real, and how you can recover if you’ve been impacted by it.

What’s an Instagram shadowban?

Instagram shadowban is best described as an unofficial strategy Instagram uses to hide your posts from users who don’t follow you. It’s done in a way where you might not even know you’ve been affected by it.

If you’ve been shadowbanned, users who don’t follow you won’t be able to see your posts when they search for a specific hashtag you’ve used. 

Only you and your followers will be able to see your posts in the feed.

As we all know, using hashtags strategically can lead to organic reach and engagement. Without them, it’ll be difficult for users to discover your Instagram profile – preventing you from growing.

You can see why being shadowbanned can be a huge problem for content creators and influencers! 

Instagram has never admitted to using shadowbans. In their statement, they referred to it as a glitch in their system.

Statement about the Instagram shadowban

But Instagram confirmed there’s a problem with hashtags. While they don’t admit to using a shadowban, some believe this is their way of addressing it

So if shadowbanning is something Instagram really uses, you’ll need to know the best ways to avoid it!

What causes an Instagram shadowban and how do you avoid it?

There are a couple of behaviors that can cause an Instagram shadowban. Here are the most common ones:

You use Instagram growth tools

Some influencers use automation services to automatically like, comment, follow, or unfollow other users to grow their profiles. 

This is a huge risk because this bot-like software break Instagram’s Terms of Use. Instagram’s algorithm is designed to detect this type of activity. They’ll likely know if you’re using growth tools, which will make you a target of an Instagram shadowban.

While these tools might save you time from doing some manual work, it’ll only harm your account in the long run. 

Being shadowbanned restricts the visibility of your profile. Plus, you’re violating Instagram’s Terms of Service, so Instagram might choose to disable your account.

Your account is reported often

There are many reasons people might report your Instagram account. Spamming other users or breaking copyright rules are some of them.

If your profile is reported often, it’ll give Instagram a heads up that you might be doing wrong. 

When you’re reported, their team will check your profile. If they find something that breaks their Terms of Service, you might get shadowbanned, or even lose your account.

To stay in the clear, it’s best to remind yourself of Instagram’s Community Guidelines, so you don’t end up doing something that’ll get you shadowbanned.

You use broken hashtags

Sometimes, hashtags are used to post inappropriate content. To prevent spam, Instagram handles these cases by blocking or limiting their use, resulting in broken hashtags.

Most of the time, the hashtags are completely normal, but they’ve been used to post content that breaks Instagram’s Community Guidelines. 

Take #beautyblogger for example. Instagram banned it last year, and it can no longer be searched on Instagram. They’ve also limited the number of posts showing under the hashtag.

If you notice that some of your posts aren’t getting the engagement you’d expect, you might be using broken hashtags. Because Instagram blocks them, it prevents your posts from getting seen.

You act like a bot

To grow their profiles, some influencers post, comment, like, follow, and unfollow too many users in a day. 

Instagram has daily limits on how many activities you can do. If you go over them, you’re exhibiting “bot” behavior, and you might be flagged as one.

For instance, you might follow 100 people, then immediately unfollow 40 of them within an hour. This makes it seem as though you’re using a tool to do this for you. It’ll get flagged as “bot” behavior by Instagram, and it may result in you getting shadowbanned. 

How to find out if you’re shadowbanned

You might suspect an Instagram shadowban if your posts aren’t getting as much engagement as it should, or your follower growth has been slower than normal. 

If you notice these things, you might want to check whether you’ve been affected by a shadowban. 

It’s a fairly simple process to check. Here’s exactly what you need to do: 

  1. Create a new Instagram post and use uncommon hashtags in the caption. This will make it easier for you to find your post.
  2. Sign out of your Instagram account, or ask to borrow your friend’s account.
  3. Search for the uncommon hashtag you used in your post.
  4. Check Top posts and Most recent to see if your post appears under the hashtag. 

If you can’t locate your post, it’s likely that your Instagram profile has been shadowbanned. 

But how do you get your profile back to normal? Luckily, there are a few solutions to lifting a shadowban which we’ll share with you below.

How can you remove an Instagram shadowban?

There are a few reasons for why you might’ve been shadowbanned. To fix it, there are some changes you can make to your profile. Here’s what you need to do: 

Stop breaking the Terms of Use

Because growth tools break Instagram’s Terms of Service, you should stop using them to automatically engage, follow, or unfollow users. 

To do that, you’ll want to start by logging out and deleting any of the tools you might be using. You’ll also want to check if you’ve given any of them third-party access to your Instagram account. 

Even if you haven’t used growth tools in a long time, you’ll still want to check. They might still have access to your account. 

You can revoke third-party access by doing the following: 

  1. Go to your Instagram account.
  2. Click on the icon with 3 lines at the top right-hand corner of the screen. 
  3. Tap on “Settings.”
  4. Go to “Security,” then tap on “Apps and Websites.”
  5. Under Active, remove access to any third-party growth apps.

Take a break

It might also help for you to step back and take a short break from Instagram. 

To do this, logout of Instagram for about 2-3 days. You should avoid posting, following, engaging, or logging into Instagram during this break. 

After a few days, you can use Instagram normally again – without using any growth tools. This acts as a “reset” and shows Instagram you’re no longer breaking their Terms of Service.

Remove broken or banned hashtags from your posts

Another thing you can do is to check whether you’ve used any broken or banned hashtags in any of your posts.

Remember, some innocent hashtags might’ve been banned because they were used to share content that breaks Instagram’s Community Guidelines. So while you may not have used an obviously inappropriate hashtag, some of them might’ve been flagged.

To see if you’ve used any broken or banned hashtags, you’ll need to go through all your Instagram posts. Find a potential hashtag and do a hashtag search to check if there’s any content showing under them. 

At the bottom of the page, you might also come across messaging like this: 

Instagram warning messageIf there’s limited to no content under the hashtag, or you come across messaging like the screenshot above, it has likely been banned. 

You should remove it from all your posts, and avoid using it again in the future. 

When you’re publishing new posts on Instagram, we highly recommend double checking your hashtags before you use them. See if you can search them on Instagram. Check whether there’s content under them. Search for any warning messages. 

If you do all this, you’re less likely to use any irrelevant hashtags that might result in you getting shadowbanned.

Final thoughts

While Instagram might not have admitted to shadowbanning users, it does seem like they’re using it to ensure users are abiding to their Terms of Service. 

The best way to avoid the Instagram shadowban is to get familiar with their Terms of Service and Community Guidelines, and follow our tips above. 

If you’ve been unlucky enough to be shadowbanned, luckily it’s not permanent. Go through the fixes we’ve shared, and your account should be back to normal in no time.

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