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What is a Shadowban? And have you been affected?

Sep 15, 2017


For the past few months, people of Instagram have been noticing their engagement dropping, follower count declining and photos not showing up on hashtag threads. *Runs to check Instagram account* – Has this been happening to you or even to your business account? You may have fallen victim to Instagram’s mysterious shadowban- so mysterious you probably didn’t even notice.

In this post, we will be answering all these questions – What is a shadowban? Why is it in place? And how can I avoid it?

What is an Instagram Shadowban?

It’s been around since 2006, believe or not! Don’t worry though, the term has only just gone mainstream. Two months ago, Twitter announced its plan to filter through abusive tweets on its platform by applying a temporary ‘time out’ on users and it looks like Instagram is following in its footsteps. The difference between the two platforms is that Twitter will inform the user of their ban, whereas the Shadowban on Instagram has been created to block a user in a way they don’t realise they have been banned.

If you have fallen victim to Instagram’s shadowban your photo’s will be hidden from users that don’t follow you, which can be detrimental to growing your account and gaining more followers. So, if you are using strategic hashtags on each of your photos, and a person searches the same hashtags, they won’t see your post if you’ve been shadowbanned. The Shadowban basically defeats the whole point of strategic hashtags to grow your Instagram. The image below shows it more clearly-

shadowban photo blog.png


What causes an Instagram Shadowban?

One way to get yourself shadowbanned is if you are using a banned hashtag! Recently, there have been over 60,000 banned hashtags. Spotting a banned hashtag can be done simply by looking at a hashtag thread. When clicking on a hashtag, it will take you on to its own thread. On this thread, there are two separate sections; ‘Top Posts’ and ‘Most Recent.’ If a hashtag has been used in an ‘un-savoury’ type of way, Instagram removes the ‘Most Recent’ section and only displays a few top posts.


So, why is Instagram banning certain hashtags?

Quite simply they have been cleaning up their platform. It’s been rumoured that Instagram has little customer service so, they need an algorithm that deals efficiently with complaints about pornographic and abusive content that have made their way on to innocent hashtag feeds! Also, say goodbye to automated tools!

All the obvious tags have been banned such as #eggplant, #twerk and #boobies, but there have been a few surprises- among the banned are #petite, #goddess and #costumes.


Have I been Shadowbanned?

There are a couple of ways to see if you have been victim to a Shadowban.

1. Use someone else’s account.

A good way to check is to see if your post shows up in the hashtag searches. You need to create a new post on Instagram and include 2-3 unpopular hashtags in the caption. Ask a friend to unfollow your account and then search for one of the hashtags that you used in your original post. If you post appears under the hashtag then you’re ok! If you post doesn’t show up in either of the sections, it’s likely that your account has been shadowbanned.

2. Shadowban analyse

There are now websites that offer a Shadowban analyser tool. All you need to do is enter your username/link to a specific post to see if your account has been shadowbanned. It is unclear how accurate this tool is.


How do I fix an Instagram Shadowban?

As we have not been impacted by the Shadowban ourselves, we’ve been researching and collecting information from people that have given out tips to help lift the ban, as Instagram has little customer support! So, here’s what we found out-

1. Leave your Instagram for 24- 48 hours. Apparently, a normal level of activity will resume if you ease off using Instagram.

2. Using automation/ bots is a massive no go! We’d suggest stopping using automated services, which has caused the Shadowban to lift.

3. If you’ve discovered that you are using a banned hashtag, remove any use of it and try to avoid it. If you are wanting to use it in the future, check the thread to see if it’s ban has been lifted.

4. Have you been using the same hashtags post after post? Try mixing it up regularly!

5. Avoid big surges of activity. There are limits on how many photos you can like, comments you can make and accounts you can follow and unfollow. If you follow 50 accounts and then unfollow half, you may be mistaken for an automated service.


Hopefully, the mysterious Shadowban is now not so mysterious to you! Hashtags are one of the best ways to grow your engagement and attract new followers, so, it’s important to be cautious when using hashtags to avoid an Instagram Shadowban. 

Category: Social Media

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