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Instagram shadowban has been making bloggers, influencers, and small business owners lose their sleep at night for some time now. The shadowban became almost a tale of a mythical creature people tell each other — no one knows exactly how it looks or where to find it, but they continue sharing their stories and spread rumors.

So what is Instagram shadowban? As the name suggests, it is a ban from Instagram — however, not a complete one. Despite the scary name, a shadowban is more like a time out than exile. It’s a ban from the vibrant Instagram community, not the app itself.

How do you know if your account has been shadowbanned?

The easiest way to check if you’ve been affected is to see whether your posts appear under the hashtags you’re using. If they don’t, chances are you’ve been shadowbanned (unless you are using hashtags like #love and #instagood, which update content at a rate of 10,000 new posts per minute). Another way to check whether your account has been affected is to see whether other users can see your account.

You might direct message some of your existing followers to ask them whether they can see you. Another way (to know for sure) is to ask people who might not follow you on Instagram whether they can find your profile through search.

Why do accounts get shadowbanned on Instagram?

No one knows the exact reasoning; however, it is safe to say that you can “earn” a shadowban by not complying with Instagram Terms and Rules. Instagram is trying really hard to make their community safe, fun and authentic. The rise of all sorts of bots and spammers force Instagram to tighten their rules.

Instagram might going a bit over the board and treat some signals as “offensive,” even if they are not. However, most of time, the algorithm and safeguards in place do a pretty good job of discerning regular well-meaning Instagram users from those who try to abuse the system.If you have been shadowbanned, most likely your behavior has caught attention of the algorithm and spam filters. Such behaviors include using apps that act on your behalf, being frequently reported by other users, or being “too active” on the platform, such as creating a lot of activity in a short periods of time.

Let’s go through these one by one.

Third-party tools that act on your behalf on Instagram is a big no-no. Let me be clear here, these are the tools that automate your actions. For example, bots that like, comments, or follow people on your behalf is the first and heaviest offense.

However, these are not the tools, such as Instagram schedulers that send you a push notification every time you have a new post coming up.

Good: apps that send you push notification to your phone, so that you can go in and manually post new content yourself, insert caption, and add hashtags.

Bad: apps that post for you, so you “set it and forget it.”

If you are unsure about using some app, there is probably a good cause for worry. Air on a safe side and us only apps you feel comfortable with using.

instagram shadowban apps

Instagress, a service that follows and unfollows for you, has been shut down. However, there are tons of “alternatives” that are as dangerous.

Next on the list is being frequently reported. This, of course, is a result of some sort of spam on your part. If you send a lot of copy-pasted direct messages, randomly tag people in your images when it doesn’t make sense for them, leave offensive comments, follow them only to unfollow them later that day… all of these can be seen as your behavior asking to be reported. Think about whether your interactions can be annoying to some people.

Finally, you might be stretching Instagram’s hourly activity levels. For example, if you mindlessly like all the posts you see or follow everyone you can find, spam filters will be triggered and you may — or may not — receive a notification that says you’ve reached hourly limits for a specific action. Slow down a bit.

Like only the images you really enjoy. Comment on posts you really feel prompted to respond to. Finally, follow the account you’re genuinely interested in and not for the sake of a follow back.

There a lot of advice going around using some sort of patterns to catch attention and get a follow back, such as liking four images, commenting on one, and then following the account (also known as 4-1-1). I don’t know for sure, but I am quite positive that these ”patterned” behaviors will catch the attention of spam filter. Genuine engagement with the content on the platform cannot be that patterned. So, I recommend staying away from using any sorts of patterns to engage the community.

It is generally a good rule that if some “growth hack” sounds funny or silly or awkward to use, it is not a good growth hack, so try to abstain from those no matter how much “growth” they promise. Recall the saying that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Plus, sometimes, shadowban might be triggered by the use of notorious hashtags. You might have seen some hashtag feeds that display a message that reads “… the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.” This should be a huge red flag for you not to use those specific hashtags. A lot of seemingly innocent hashtags have been banned. Plus, over time, they can be banned and unbanned, depending on the content that’s being posted and whether people continue to report it.

instagram shadowban hashtags

None of these images seem particularly offensive, neither does the hashtag itself. Yet, here is the message.

So, what do you do to avoid Instagram shadowban?

Obviously, shadowban negatively affects your account and your ability to leverage the platform. The most simple, yet most effective advice is to act like a human and not a bot. Engage with your community authentically.

First of all, if you engage to Instagram authentically, it’s pretty difficult to reach hourly limits as reading posts and commenting mindfully takes time. Plus, there won’t be a rhythm or pattern to your liking or commenting, so it won’t catch spam filters’ attention.

Of course, check your hashtags somewhat frequently to make sure you’re not using any of the flagged hashtags in your posts. It is also a good idea to use a variety of hashtags, so that your posts don’t all have the exact same set of 30 words.

What do you do if you suspect you have been shadowbanned?

First of all, don’t panic. If you haven’t been completely banned from the platform, there is a very good chance you’ll be fine.

Most of them time, questionable apps can trigger spam filter. If you’ve recently started using new apps — or even if you’ve been using them for quite some time — it might be best to minimize their access to your account. From the desktop version of Instagram, click the cog icon next to your profile image. Click “Authorized Applications” in the left sidebar and go through the whole list.

Revoke access for any apps you haven’t used in a while and any apps you don’t recognize. Also, think whether this list is missing any of the apps you do use. If you use Instagram apps but they do not appear in the list you see in your account, this is a huge red flag. Shady apps use shady access to your account, so let go of any such application.

instagram shadowban apps

Revoke access for any apps you don’t use or recognize.

Next, check all of the hashtags you’ve been using for the message mentioned above, especially the ones you use frequently.

Slow down your activity a notch. Post your content as you would normally do. Like, comment and follow minimally, but steadily. Show Instagram that you are not a spammer or a bot. Most users that have been affected by this at various times report that within a few days, algorithms seem to reset your account status. Continue to monitor the situation and see if your posts begin to appear in hashtag feeds again.

If your account has been affected in the past, I would strongly recommend to change the course of action and find ways to be an active part of the community without triggering the filters.

If you have been shadowbanned, there is a good chance you know why. So, if you don’t want to be banned completely, don’t continue to do something that is obviously not working to your advantage.

If you, however, do not know how you brought the shadowban onto your account, you might want to contact Instagram and report a problem with your account.

Whether shadowban is as widespread as the rumors about it are, remember to be a valuable part of the community and you won’t have to be worried about a thing.

Also, remember that reach and engagement are dropping because of Instagram’s business strategy, so just because your engagement is down, doesn’t mean you’ve been shadowbanned.

Want more Insta tips?

Finally, keep in mind that the quality of your images, captions, and even your audience will dictate engagement levels. If you are unhappy with the rate but you haven’t been shadowbanned (at least you are not 100% sure), try refining your presence and implementing organic engagement-boosting tactics, such as those I share in my free 5-day Instagram challenge.

Have you experienced Instagram shadowban? When and how id it happen? Do you know possible causes? Share in the comment section below or head over to Instagram @lesyaliu, I would love to know more!