Shadowban is an ambiguous term, but it generally refers to Instagram restricting the visibility of a user’s content for various reasons, so that posts don’t show up in searches or in followers’ feeds. This, in turn, results in a drop in engagement and makes it really difficult for a shadowbanned user to grow their account.
Instagram has been implementing a variety of new algorithms since June 2016 and as a result, plenty of accounts have seen a drastic decrease in engagement of up to 50% or more! That means, if your engagement isn’t as good as it once was, that doesn’t automatically mean you’ve been hit with an Instagram Shadowban.
An official Shadowban is Instagram’s attempt at filtering out accounts that aren’t complying with their terms. The Shadowban renders your account practically invisible and inhibits your ability to reach new people. More specifically, your images will no longer appear in the hashtags you’ve used which can result in a huge hit on your engagement. Your photos are reported to still be seen by your current followers, but to anyone else, they don’t exist. That means if you have a small or relatively new account, building a following is going to be significantly harder than ever before.
How Do I Know If I'm Shadowbanned?
To confirm whether or not you’ve been shadowbanned, find 3-5 users that do not follow you and ask them to check if your image is appearing within the hashtags you used on that post (keep in mind if you used a tag with 1 million posts associated with it, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to find your image anyway. Instead, check a small hashtag that isn’t updated too regularly).
If all of the people who checked for you do NOT see your image at all, your account may have been shadowbanned. If some of the people still see your image then you most likely have not been shadowbanned and are just experiencing a dip in engagement or are seeing the results of the “hashtag glitch” that Instagram has mentioned before.
Why did my account get shadowbanned?
Instagram has shied away from this topic and has not explicitly stated what causes a shadowban or that these bans even exist, but in my professional opinion, shadowbans are based on your actions. The more “spammy” they are, the more likely you are to be banned. Here are a few things you could be doing that could cause an Instagram Shadowban:
1. You’re using software that violates Instagram’s Terms of Service. This includes bots that “grow” your following for you such as Instagress, Followliker and Mass Planner. Or “Instagram growth services” that claim to do the leg work for you like Boostly, Social Envy and Socially Rich. Additionally, if you are using software that posts images for you are violating Instagram’s Terms of Service. Lastly, if you have multiple accounts and you’re using automation on one of them, it could potentially affect your other accounts because they share an IP address.
2. You’re abusing Instagram’s daily and hourly limits. Yes, there are limits to how many actions you can take per day on Instagram. This includes the number of photos you like, the number of comments you leave and how many people you follow or unfollow. Depending on the age of your account, your limits may be different but in most cases, you shouldn’t exceed 150 likes, 60 comments and 60 follows/unfollows per hour.
3. You’re using a broken or abused hashtag. With millions of users on Instagram, it’s hard to control what everyone shares and how they categorize their content. Sometimes a hashtag as innocent as #beautyblogger can become overrun with inappropriate content such as nudity, spam or racially insensitive images. When this happens and Instagram takes notice, they either remove the hashtag completely or limit it’s usage.
4. Your account is continually being reported. Reporting accounts is the quickest way to get Instagram’s attention and warn them of an account that is violating the terms of service or the community guidelines. If this happens to your account, Instagram may fully disable it, or they may just throw you in the shadowban club.
How to remove the Instagram shadowban?
If you’re still convinced your account has been shadowbanned, or you’re not 100% sure whether the Instagram shadowban is real but you want to play it safe, here’s a summary of what to do – and what not to do!
- Don’t use bots to grow your followers or to automate engagement
- Avoid third-party apps that don’t abide by Instagram’s terms of service, such as apps which post photos to your account directly without accessing Instagram’s Business API
- Engage with your community organically. Put the time and effort in and leave meaningful comments. You get what you give!
- Mix up the hashtags you’re using and make sure they’re relevant to your content (and not offensive)
- Stick to Instagram’s T&C’s
Following these tips are going to give you the best possible chance of maintaining a good level of visibility and engagement so you can grow your account on the platform. Even if the Instagram shadowban isn’t what we originally thought it was, it doesn’t hurt to stay aware of the ground rules and the best practices, and keep an eye out for changes to the platform and/or your account.