When you’re trying to grow a following on Instagram, it can be frustrating when your posts aren’t showing up anywhere. Instagram users depend upon the explore page and hashtags for social growth, but sometimes your engagement might just stop responding or show your posts love. There are plenty who have claimed they’ve been limited by shadowbanned accounts, but no one at Facebook or Instagram has ever confirmed or denied if this practice exists at all.
You may have noticed that something doesn’t seem right with your account, and you’re unsure what it is—feeling invisible to new followers, specifically on the hashtag results page? Chances are you’ve been shadowbanned.
Don’t worry; you’re not alone! In this article, we’ll explain what shadow banning is, how to know if you’ve been shadowbanned and tips on avoiding shadow banning.
What Does it Mean to be Instagram Shadow Banned?
Shadowbanning is the act of hiding or restricting someone’s content without their knowledge. It’s not an official term, but it has been gaining popularity over the past few years among social media users.
When this happens, Instagram limits your contents reach simply by restricting visibility. You can still be active on your account, all while Instagram will “silence” your posts without notifying you. This normally happens when someone has violated Instagram’s community guidelines or goes against what Instagram deems appropriate.
When you get shadowbanned, your posts will not appear on anyone’s feed unless they are already following you. You will also be restricted from showing up on the hashtag and explore page, which can seriously hurt your engagement and growth.
Why Does Instagram Shadow Ban Users?
Instagram and Facebook have not yet openly admitted to shadowbanning users. Although they did address the issue of content not showing up for certain hashtags, by releasing a statement on the Facebook Business page. With this statement, Instagram admits that certain posts will not always appear within hashtag pages.
This is speculated to be the unofficial way Instagram has admitted to shadow banning. It’s likely that this is the best explanation users will receive in regards to what really goes on behind the scenes without an official confirmation.
Instagram’s Shadowbanning is an interesting approach to filtering out accounts that don’t comply with their terms. Instagram has a serious attitude towards its community guidelines, so if you break them, there’s almost always a chance that your account will get penalized.
Be careful about the kind of actions or content you post on your profile. Stay well away from violence, graphic content, misinformation, sexually suggestive images, and spam to avoid getting shadowbanned on Instagram.
Test if Your Account has been Shadow Banned
There is no surefire way to tell if you’ve been shadowbanned on Instagram, but here are three red flags that might point toward it:
1. Review Insights
Have you been experiencing a sudden drop in engagement? Review your metrics, especially the percent of accounts reached that were not following you. If these impressions are seriously low, this could be due to a shadowban.
2. Test Hashtags
If you find yourself having problems, check your hashtags. If you see a message that posts have been hidden, you may have used a banned or flagged hashtag leading to a shadowban.
3. Ask a Friend
To be certain that your account has been shadowbanned, you should check how content from a non-follower shows up on their feed. You should ask someone to unfollow you, then use the same hashtags you’ve been using to post a new photo. Check your non-followers hashtag page that you used with your new photo and review if it appears under the recent.
If you notice that your posts aren’t showing up on their feed anymore, give it a few minutes and to be even more certain try out on another friend’s account. If your post still fails to appear, it likely means you have been shadowbanned by Instagram.
Why Have I Been Shadow Banned & How To Avoid It?
1. Faking Your Engagement
You might be thinking that buying followers and faking engagement will get you an edge on your competition, but Instagram is well aware of these tactics, and there is the possibility of getting shadowbanned. Avoid using bots or spreading spam to keep your account safe from Instagram shadow banning.
Focus on posting content that you are genuinely interested in, and of course, make sure your audience can relate as well. Only comment on photos that have something worthwhile to say and follow accounts that you actually care about.
2. Engaging Too Frequently
The Instagram algorithm might detect if you’re “over-engaging” with posts. With Instagram, you are only allowed to follow, or like a certain number of people within a set time constraint. This is used to stop spambots. If you are constantly going over this limit, your account may be shadow banned.
The algorithm will flag high-volume activity as suspected spam, be sure not to engage in 500 or more actions per day, including following, unfollowing, and liking posts.
3. Follow The Community Guidelines
It is important to stop any activity against Instagram’s terms of service and conditions. There are a few restrictions on what you can post and limitations on certain actions. If your account has also been reported on more than one occasion, Instagram will determine that you’ve been posting inappropriate content or violating their terms of service. This can lead to getting shadowbanned or even suspended.
4. Using Banned & Restricted Hashtags
Instagram is always striving to maintain a safe and welcoming environment for all of its users. So when a hashtag becomes overrun with inappropriate content, Instagram will remove it or limit its use in order to protect users. Be careful when using restricted or banned hashtags, as they put your account in danger. Always do a quick search before adding any hashtags to your posts to make sure you don’t potentially get shadowbanned.
5. Business vs. Personal Account
Switching from a business account to a personal account could help you avoid a shadowban. It is because Instagram is well known for its marketing and advertising abilities; it would seem likely that they will place more bans and restrictions on business accounts to prevent inappropriate advertisements, keeping consumers safe.
How To Reverse A Shadowban On Instagram?
When you’re experiencing a shadowban on Instagram, it can be hard to know what the best course of action is. The first step is to reverse any damage done and avoid future damage. Here are some steps that should get things back in order and signal to Instagram that you are complying with their guidelines:
- Immediately remove any bots or automated services you have running
- Remove any broken, restricted, or banned hashtags
- Cut back on “over-engagement” and limit yourself to under 500 actions per day
- Reach out to Instagram support
- Take a break from Instagram for at least 48 hours
- Avoid generic comments; write genuine comments
- Avoid spam following. Follow and engage with accounts you genuinely care about
- Switch from a business to a personal account
We are aware that it is entirely possible to be shadowbanned; because of this, account holders will need to make sure they are complying with the app’s Community Guidelines, and as long as your content and engagement seem genuine, then there shouldn’t really be any problems!
Shadowbanning may have happened to you before, or have not; regardless you should always follow preventive practices to help keep your account visible no matter what.
Focus especially on quality, not just spam posting. The more value you provide users, the more organic engagement you will receive.
Instagram users have also reported taking a short hiatus from using their accounts to reset the system and getting a fresh start. If something still isn’t right, you can always try navigating through the settings menu and selecting “Report a Problem.” This way the Instagram support team can take a look at your account and possibly offer a solution.
There’s no magic formula for building engagement on social media, and Instagram growth is not something that can be shortcut. Hashtags are a great way to grow your audience, but if you go too far with them, they can backfire, bots and spam will certainly hurt your account in the long term and misinformation or inappropriate content is the fastest way to get shadowbanned.
Stick to growing meaningful connections on Instagram by using creativity and patience. By being cautious and using best practices when posting on Instagram, you can be sure that your account remains active and engaging.