My Guide to Instagram Shadowbanning

The term shadowbanning has been around on Instagram for a good 6-9 months at this point. For those that are out of the loop, this is a phrase whereby Instagram can apply a setting to your account that means it is invisible to new followers. This means engagement and reach are greatly reduced. You still show up to current followers but it harms the growth of an account. 

There have been lots of rumours and confusion on this subject so I will try to answer any potential questions. 

What is Instagram shadowbanning?

The term 'Instagram Shadowbanning' is Instagrams way to flagging an account that has unusual activity or hits various points that they deem to be a concern. These concerns can be a number of things such as the following: 

  • Too many log-in attempts or if they believe your account has been hacked. 
  • Using an app that tracks followers and unfollowers
  • Using any other app or service that violates Instagram’s terms of use. (Like the auto-likes apps that seemed so popular)
  • Having a post reported and removed for things like drugs, abuse or nudity and this can include innocent ones like breastfeeding. 
  • All new accounts are automatically under a temporary ‘shadowban’ for the first 2 weeks.
  • Using the same hashtags over and over, they need to be changed on a post to post basis. 

It would appear that being shadowbanned lasts for exactly 14 days, this is pretty much to the hour. During this time the content only becomes visible to people who already follow the account. So it won't appear on locations, hashtags, explore but they can search your profile name and you'll show up. 

As to why this happens, it appears that Instagram has remained very quiet on this topic. At first, trying to brush it under the carpet but as the whispers turned to shouting they have sort of acknowledged it as a way of controlling spam accounts. 

A little while ago they used this method to control what their younger audience saw, especially when accounts tried to spam innocent family hashtags with pornographic material. As with lots of things, innocent accounts got caught up in this but it felt like a necessary step in making the platform a safer place. 

How do you check to see if you've been shadowbanned? You will first notice a drop off on engagement and that might be the first sign. If you have a business accounts you can go into the analytics and on a post look in the 'Insights' near the top, it will say % weren't following you. 

There are a few websites that claim they can tell if your account has limited visibility...but for the most part, these are a scam. 

The easiest way to check if your content is showing up is to open a private web browser window and search for a hashtag that you have used on a photo...ideally a smallish one and see if you show up. (https://instagram.com/explore/tags/mysundayphoto for an example.) Change the 'mysundayphoto' part for your tag and have a look. If you can't see your photo in there then there is a good chance you've been shadowbanned. 

If you have the misfortune of getting shadowbanned, what can you do? 

Honestly, the best thing to do is wait the 14 days, don't do anything too different. You can still post but be careful to try not to ensure another ban if you know the hashtag that might be causing the ban don't use it again. If you've been copying and pasting hashtags stop and mix them up. 

This also works when you have an issue on Facebook, boost a post. This seems to remove the shadowban straightaway. Instagram and Facebook what people to boost posts and the way people will keep doing this if the user sees huge interaction on their post. 

If you notice a drop in interaction if shows that a lot of your followers aren't visiting your profile and posts. Use this time to reconnect with them, go and like their photos and they might just do the same back. 

Once the 14 day period has passed there is no noticeable lasting damage, there might be something behind the scenes as Instagram HQ like a note on your account but from a reach and impressions point of view, nothing appears to happen. People who have been shadowbanned have after the 14 day period reappeared on the discovery page and location tags. 

Hopefully, this has answered a few of your questions if you have any more please leave them in the comments or get in touch via my Instagram profile