With over one billion active users on Instagram, everyone from your co-worker, to the Poptarts brand, to your doctor has an account.
Updated: September 2019
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 shadowban that has come to affect certain accounts, your engagement could be at risk.
What is the Instagram shadowban?
An Instagram shadowban is when the platform suppresses or blocks a user's content without the user knowing they have been shadowbanned. These accounts will not have their content appear in Instagram Explore or anyone else's feed, unless users follow the account. This usually takes place after a user has published content that Instagram deems as toxic or breaks their terms of service.
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 shadowban affects Instagram accounts and see if you’ve fallen victim to the algorithm change.
Shadowbanning has grown in popularity since early 2017 when both Instagram and Twitter were accused of implementing the practice on their platforms.
The two platforms have approached the practice of shadowbanning in different ways. In July 2018, Twitter came forward with a response focused on the Twitter ranking system and whether the Twitter shadowban 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 shadowban 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 through 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 shadowbanned on Instagram?
The good news about the Instagram shadowban 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 shadowban.
How to check if you've been shadowbanned
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.
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 shadowbanned.
However, if you’re finding that your content isn’t populating, it is likely that your account is under a shadowban.
How to fix a shadowbanned Instagram account
There’s no black or white reason for why accounts may be placed underneath the shadowban. 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.
1. Check granted access
There are many reasons why you may have allowed other applications to have access to your Instagram account. Social media management 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 shadowban. 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.
Under settings, click on the Authorized Applications tab to help discover and control what third parties have access to your account.
Finally, review what applications have access to your account. To ensure that you aren’t under the shadowban, 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.
2. 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's an entirely different 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 shadowban, 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.
Take a few minutes and read Instagram’s rules to avoid being put on the shadowban list for violating terms unintentionally. Ignoring these rules could lead to your content being reported and your account becoming terminated.
4. Take a social media break
For some individuals, taking a break from the platform has seemed to help with solving the Instagram shadowban. 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 shadowban to be removed from your profile.
TIP: While you're taking a break from Instagram, take the time to see which social media platform is best for your brand.
5. Switch back to a personal profile instead of a business one
It seems that the Instagram shadowban 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 account gives many benefits to users such as insights on your posts. It allows for you to see how your profile is performing and keep up with your Instagram Analytics, but changing back to a normal account seems like a simple solution to removing your account from the shadowban.
Since there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for the Instagram shadowban, 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.
6. Last resort: report the problem to Instagram
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 shadowban to Instagram, go to your Instagram app and click on the menu icon to access Settings.
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 shadowban, however, will limit your reach. Hopefully these tips will help if the shadowban has affected you.
Anastasia Masters is a former Content Marketing Associate at G2 focusing on all things marketing. 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 UMich sports. (she/her/hers)