What Is Instagram Shadowbanning? Is It happening to You?

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Instagram Shadowbanning
Instagram Shadowbanning

Have you heard of the mysterious Instagram shadowban?

Well, it may be just a rumor.  Instagram claims that shadowbanning isn’t actually a thing.

However, if you've noticed a drop in your engagement lately, you're probably not the only one. There are claims of follower counts dropping, brands receiving fewer ‘likes’, and favorite hashtags not displaying photos.

So what's going on here? 

If you're following Instagram's rules and posting appropriate content (in theory) you should be able to profit and gain from your Instagram efforts.

But if you are experiencing some issues, or just want to learn more about the concept of Shadowbanning, read on...

What is Shadowbanning?

The term shadowban has been around since 2006 but has just recently gone mainstream. You might recognize it from Twitter.  Just a few months ago, Twitter announced that it had begun filtering out abusive tweets on its platform by applying a sort of temporary “time-out” on users who broke their terms of service.


The social media platform does inform its users when they have been shadowbanned.

However, by definition, a shadowban is the act of blocking a user from an online community in such a way that they may not realize that they’ve ever been banned.

On Instagram, shadowbanning supposedly hides your posts from users who don’t follow you. When you're trying to grow an Instagram following, you depend on hashtags and engagement to expand your audience and reach. So it can feel disheartening when it suddenly seems like your content isn't showing up anywhere. 

Instagram's Claim

Here's the twist... in a recent statement, Instagram has claimed that there is no shadowban and that it doesn’t hide content for using too many hashtags or taking other actions. But we do know users have previously experienced their content not showing up in hashtag searches, and users have spoken out about it. 

Instagram addressed the issue in an official statement:

“We understand users have experienced issues with our hashtag search that caused posts to not be surfaced... When developing content, we recommend focusing on your business objective or goal rather than hashtags”.

Full version here:


Shadowban, or not, reduced searchability and visibility of content would be concerning for Instagram users. 

It is important to note that Instagram changes its algorithm quite often. Those changes could be the reason for the sudden drop of engagement noticed by so many Instagrammers. It’s also worth bearing in mind that, just because you’re not getting the engagement you once were, doesn’t mean you’ve been shadowbanned.

Other reasons for lack of reach include:

  • You didn't post at an optimal time.
  • The hashtags you choose are ineffective.
  • Your content was less than exciting.

Before you jump to conclusions, dare to stare your content in the face and decide if you need to up your game. Do you need to get more creative?

Take concrete steps to create more engaging content that piques curiosity and inspires your audience to read on or take action.

Is Your Account Affected By This Hashtag Issue?

There is an easy trick to figure out if your account has been affected: 

  1. Post a picture with a hashtag that isn’t commonly used. If you choose a popular hashtag, it will be hard to find your picture among the millions of others associated with that hashtag.
  2. Once you have posted, ask five people who DO NOT follow you to search the hashtag you captioned your picture with.
  3. If they cannot see your post when they searched for that particular hashtag, it's likely your account is affected.

If you fall into this category, have no fear!

Here is your solution...

Banned/Broken Hashtags

Sometimes a popular hashtag gets contaminated with inappropriate content. When this happens, Instagram can remove the hashtag completely or limit its use.

You might have been using a totally innocent hashtag to push powerful content (such as #tgif, #boho, and even #dogsofinstagram) only for that particular hashtag to be taken over by people promoting ‘less lovely’ content. Ruining things for everyone. 

Preview put together a list of banned hashtags. Check it out and be sure to remove any broken hashtags from your account. Going forward, be selective with the hashtags you choose and take a look at the hashtags page. Instagram will often post messages like “Recent posts from #summer2018 are currently hidden … " which indicates that it is no longer in use. 

Account Often Reported

If your account is constantly getting reported, Instagram will assume you are posting inappropriate content or violating the terms of use. This could result in a disabled or possibly shadowbanned account.

Make sure you are familiar with and follow Instagram's Terms of Use and Community Guidelines. When growing your account, it is important to post helpful and authentic content all while following best practices. 

Posting, Following, Commenting or Engaging too Quickly

There are time constraints on how often you can follow, unfollow, like, comment, or post, within an hour or day. If you do any of these things at a fast rate, Instagram is likely to believe that it is a bot doing all the work.

These actions help you grow a following quickly, but oftentimes you aren’t reaching the right people with this approach, and will most likely result in a ban. Taking a 48-hour break from Instagram has been reported to ‘reset’ the system and get you back on track. Now might just be the time for your social media cleanse! 


In Conclusion

As long as you aren't violating Instagram's terms of service and aren't using banned hashtags, you should be able to reap the benefits of using Instagram for your business.

Following these tips will give you the best possible chance at maintaining visibility and a good level of engagement so that you can grow your Instagram platform. It is always a good idea to be aware of the ground rules and best practices while keeping an eye out for any changes to your page or account. What do you think? Is shadowbanning actually happening?

If you want more advanced, in-depth tips and methods from myself and other experts, join our premium group at join.adleaks.com.

About Tim Burd

Tim Burd is a public speaker, consultant, and serial entrepreneur who’s been called the “Godfather of Facebook Advertising” for his many years of supporting and empowering digital marketers.

Tim’s Facebook Ad Buyers Group is the largest community of online advertisers in the world. He is the co-founder of AdLeaks, an exclusive subscription-based community, and resource for digital marketing and business growth.

In addition to hosting Mastermind workshops and events, Tim has been featured on publications and platforms ranging from Forbes and Bloomberg to Buzzfeed and Bravo.

Tim Burd lives in Newport Beach, California, and works with clients worldwide as a high-end advertising consultant and business development expert.