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Instagram Shadow Ban: What Is It & How To Fix It

Discover everything you need to know about fixing an Instagram shadow ban.

Lauren Melnick
8 minutes read

So you think you have an Instagram shadowban on your hands? You’re not alone.

For years, creators have complained about their content not appearing on hashtags or the Explore Page and engagement rates plummeting. But Instagram continues to dispute that ‘shadow banning’ is a real thing.

So what’s the story? Is your account shadowbanned, or is something else going on?

Let’s explore what an Instagram shadow ban is and the practical steps you can take to address it. 

 

 

What is an Instagram Shadowban?

An Instagram Shadowban is when the platform limits the reach of your content by restricting visibility.

If a ban hits you, you’re not notified, but you may notice a sharp decline in engagement and you may notice your content isn’t appearing on hashtags or Explore pages.

But officially, “shadow banning” isn’t an Instagram term, leading many creators to question if it’s a real thing. In a Q&A session back in 2020, Adam Mosseri (Head of Instagram) revealed that “shadowbanning is not a think… Being in Explore is not guaranteed for anyone. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you won’t.” 

Is Instagram Shadowbanning Real?

Let’s take a look at a timeline of Instagram’s response to shadowbanning over the past few years.

2018: Instagram claimed, “shadowbanning is not a real thing.” In a meeting with reporters, the app discussed how its algorithm works and said it doesn’t hide content if you use too many hashtags or take other actions.

2019: Instagram back peddles by acknowledging it will reduce the spread of inappropriate posts, even if they’re within Instagram’s Community Guidelines.

2020: Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, addressed shadowbanning during the Black Lives Matter movement. He said Instagram is taking steps to improve user experiences by reviewing how the algorithm filters Hashtag and Explore pages, algorithmic bias, and releasing more information about the type of content to avoid posting.

2021: Adam wrote a blog post about how the algorithm ranks content. In a section on shadowbanning, he wrote, 

“We can be more transparent about why we take things down when we do, work to make fewer mistakes – and fix them quickly when we do – and better explain how our systems work. We’re developing better in-app notifications, so people know in the moment why, for instance, their post was taken down, and exploring ways to let people know when what they post goes against our Recommendations Guidelines.”

What Causes an Instagram Shadowban?

While we don’t know for sure what causes a shadowban, five actions increase the probability of your account going in for a time out.

You’re Violating Instagram’s Terms Of Use

Using third-party apps and websites to buy likes, followers, post comments, and send DMs is a big no-no on Instagram (and all social media platforms).

Instagram is doubling down on bot activity. It doesn’t want any automated interaction, only organic user activity between real people. So skip the bots and foster meaningful interactions instead!

You Are Exceeding Your Engagement Limits

Engagement is a key pillar to growing on Instagram, but there’s a limit.

To help flag bot accounts and control spam on the app, there are restrictions on how much engagement behavior is allowed hourly and daily.

• Likes limits: 120 per hour or 300-500 per day.

• Comments limits: 200 per day.

• Follow limit: 10 per hour or 100-150 per day.

• Unfollowing limit: 60 per hour or 150 per day.

• Direct Message limit: 50-70 per day.

You Are Using a Banned Hashtag

When bot and spam accounts strike, it sometimes means innocent hashtags like #elevator and #beautyblogger land up on the banned list.

Why?

Spam accounts are posting content that isn’t related to the hashtag, or users are using it to post offensive material that goes against Instagram’s Community Guidelines.

If you use a banned hashtag, your post won’t rank, and your account might become shadowbanned.

Your Account Is Being Reported Often

If tons of Instagram users are blocking and/or reporting your account for violating Instagram’s terms of use, your account is in trouble.

Besides receiving a lengthy shadow ban, Instagram may deactivate your account altogether.

How to Check if Your Instagram Account is Shadowbanned

Not sure if your followers are simply not engaging with your content or if you’re in the Instagram dog box? Here’s how you can check if your account is shadowbanned:

Check Your Account Status

Psst… did you know Instagram rolled out a fancy new “Account Status” feature?

With a few taps, you can quickly see if any of your posts are against Instagram’s Community Guidelines and have been taken down.

But that’s not all!

If you disagree with Instagram’s decision, you can appeal it.

Here’s how to check your account status:

• Step 1: Open the app and go to “Settings.”

• Step 2: Tap on “Account.”

• Step 3: Tap on “Account Status,” and any posts affecting your account will appear here.

How Can You Get Out Of Instagram Shadowban?

Is Instagram not happy with you? Here’s how to get back in the platform’s good books.

Spring Clean Your Connected Apps

Are you using apps to automate your engagement? Or an Instagram scheduler tool that isn’t an *official* Instagram partner?

Whelp. That’s probably why you’re in the naughty corner.

To get out, stop using those apps ASAP.

If you’re not sure if you have any bot services or unapproved apps linked to your account, go to your “Settings,” tap on “Security,” and select “Apps and Websites.”

Here, you’ll see a list of active, expired, and removed apps.

Take a Closer Look at Your Hashtags

Hashtag bans are a very real thing.

You’ll know if a hashtag is banned when the “top posts” section loads, but not recent posts. Sometimes, you might see a message from Instagram stating posts are being hidden for not meeting community guidelines. 

If you’re on a desktop, the hashtag page won’t load, and you’ll see a message saying, “Sorry, this page isn’t available.”

 

What should you do if a hashtag you use is banned?  Remove it from your posts, and instead, find another relevant tag to use.

Want an easy way to add strategic, relevant hashtags to your posts? Use Plann’s hashtag manager, packed with hundreds of curated hashtags for every niche.

Report Your Shadowban

Head to the “Account Status” tool and request a review from Instagram if you believe the ban is incorrect.

If that doesn’t work, you can go to “Report a Problem” in the Help section. Once the pop-up loads, select “Something Isn’t Working” and write a message to Instagram describing the problem.

And that’s a wrap!

While we don’t have all the answers for shadowbanning (like how long it lasts), what we do know is this: it’s better to focus on avoiding Instagram shadowbans and staying on the app’s good side.

Your first step? Use a tool like Plann to schedule your Instagram content. As an official Instagram partner, you can use our app to post your content without getting flagged.

Even better? You can sign up for a 7-day free trial of Plann Pro today. If you don’t like it, you can keep using Plann for free. 

 

 

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