Instagram Shadow Ban: What Is It? (+Tips on How to Fix It)

Anastasia Masters
Anastasia Masters  |  March 28, 2019

With over one billion active users on Instagram, everyone from your co-worker, to the Poptarts brand, to your doctor has a presence on the platform.

It’s important to stay on top of your game in regards to your social media accounts to ensure that your content is being optimized in order to maximize engagement with your followers and other users. However, with Instagram’s shadow ban that has come to affect certain accounts, your engagement could be at risk.

If you’ve seen a decrease in engagement on your account, there's information about how to get more likes on Instagram. However, it's useful to learn how the shadow ban affects Instagram accounts and see if you’ve fallen victim to this practice.

Already know what the Instagram shadow ban is? Jump ahead to learn more about how to fix the issue:

What is the Instagram shadow ban?

Shadow banning has been seeming to grow in popularity since early 2017 when both Instagram and Twitter were accused of implementing this practice on their platforms.

These two platforms have approached the practice of shadow banning in different ways. In July 2018, Twitter came forward with a response focused on the Twitter ranking system and whether the Twitter shadow ban actually existed.

Instagram, on the other hand, has not admitted to the practice. They approached the topic in a more vague way that seems to be confirming but not confirming the practice in the same way.

Instagram comment on the shadow ban

Instagram shadow ban is when Instagram partially bans your content from appearing on the platform without your awareness of the situation. All of your followers can still view and engage with your published content. However, your posts are not viewable under other Instagram discovery tools such as the explore feature or hashtag views.

Even though Instagram hasn’t come forward about the process, there’s a few easy steps to check if this practice is affecting your profile and engagement.

Am I shadow banned?

The good news about the Instagram shadow ban is that it does not affect how your followers see your content! Your followers will still see your content through posts and stories.

The bad news is that potential followers could have a harder time seeing your posts if you are affected by the shadow ban.

How to check

When you create your next post, make sure that you include a hashtag that is more unique. If you use a hashtag that is frequently used, it’s likely that your post will not show up due to competition within the hashtag already.

Tip: Looking to maximize the use of hashtags on your posts? Read more about Instagram hashtag strategy tips.

You’ll need to have a couple of people that don’t follow you look for your unique hashtag right after you posted. Look under the recent and top tabs. If your post populates under there- congrats! You aren’t shadow banned.

However, if you’re finding that your content isn’t populating, it is likely that your account is under a shadow ban.

How to fix the Instagram shadow ban

There’s no black or white reason for why accounts may be placed underneath the shadow ban. What is most important is ensuring that you are following Instagram’s published rules and general best practices to ensure that your content has the best chance to succeed.

Check granted access

There are many reasons why you may have allowed other applications to have access to your Instagram account. Social media marketing software allow for you to schedule posts, compile your most liked photos, gather performance analytics from your account, and can even have comment and like posts on your behalf.

These applications help to simplify your Instagram experience, but the authorization of these apps is also one of the easiest ways to end up under the Instagram shadow ban. Instagram doesn’t support robot-like activity on the platform. Removing the access that these apps have will likely cause you to have more work on Instagram than you’re used to. In the long run, it will help ensure that you have a genuine following on the platform.

To check your access, log into your Instagram account on your desktop. Once on your profile, click on the cog icon to access the settings for your account. Accessing Instagram Settings to Remove Shadow Ban

Under settings, click on the authorized applications tab to help discover and control what third parties have access to your account.

Instagram authorized applications

Finally, review what has access to your account. To ensure that you aren’t under the shadow ban, it’s recommended to remove all external access to your account from accounts that are not Instagram partners. However, if you aren’t willing to go that far, make sure that you remove all applications that may seem unsafe to use.

Removing the Instagram Shadow Ban through your settings

Banned hashtags

Hashtags are essential to ensuring that your content is found by individuals who don’t follow you. These tools help you expand your reach throughout the Instagram world.

However, there is a whole other world of banned hashtags. These hashtags may be a permanent ban or may just be temporary, but it is best practice to avoid using these in your posts. They are often banned because they have become overrun with inappropriate content. With the Instagram shadow ban, your posts won’t even show up under these hashtags that are banned, so make sure to use ones that are unique and descriptive to your content.

Follow Instagram’s rules

This may seem like an obvious suggestion. Instagram has community guidelines and terms of use that are meant to help guide users in their interactions with the platform. These may seem redundant, but Instagram makes these platform guidelines public to ensure that users understand what is allowed while using the app.

Take a few minutes and read Instagram’s rules to avoid being put on the shadow ban list for violating terms unintentionally. Ignoring these rules could lead to your content being reported and your account becoming terminated.

Take a break

For some individuals, taking a break from the platform has seemed to help with solving the Instagram shadow ban. Delete the application off your phone for two or more days and enjoy the time spent away. Perhaps pick up a book or spend some time walking around your neighborhood.

When you log into the platform again, make sure that you begin to engage in an authentic manner. Post comments on content that you truly enjoy instead of adding the same emoji on everything.

Engaging with content in this manner will help you fly under the radar of Instagram and will hopefully allow for the shadow ban to be removed from your profile.

Switch back to a personal profile instead of a business one

It seems that the Instagram shadow ban may only be affecting accounts that are business profiles. One way that can help remove your account from the list is changing your profile back to a personal profile.

Having an Instagram business profile gives many benefits to users such as insights on your posts. It allows for you to see how your profile is performing, but changing back to a normal account seems like a simple solution to removing your account from the shadow ban.

Since there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for the Instagram shadow ban, it’s recommended that you change your profile for at least a few days to see if this will help you remove yourself from the list.

Last resort: report the problem to Insta

If you’ve exhausted all options and your posts are still not showing up under more unique hashtags, you need to put the problem in the hands of Instagram.

To report the shadow ban to Instagram, go to your Instagram app and click on the menu icon to access the settings feature. Once on settings head to the help tab and click on report a problem. Type a description of your visibility issue under the something isn’t working menu option.

Don’t make your response long-winded. Keep it short and descriptive to help Instagram identify the problem with your account.

Moving forward: quality content first

Hashtags are a wonderful way to grow your following and expand your presence on Instagram. The Instagram shadow ban, however, will limit your reach. Hopefully these tips will help if the shadow ban has taken over your account!

Want to learn more about how to grow your instagram presence? Check out how to get more followers on instagram.  

Anastasia Masters
Author

Anastasia Masters

Anastasia Masters is a Content Marketing Associate at G2 Crowd. Hailing from Michigan, she graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in history. In her spare time, Anastasia enjoys eating her way through Chicago's different neighborhoods, exploring new places to visit across the globe, and watching the Chicago Cubs.