Instagram in the Era of the Shadow Ban

Raise your hand if you’re on instagram.

Have you heard the rumors about the ominous shadow ban?

If not, while instagram has simply only admitted there’s a hashtag glitch, it seems that they are purposefully hiding content from showing up in certain tags. This appears to be an effort to stop spamming and increase ad revenue.

This ban is then termed with the word ‘shadow’ because instagram doesn’t notify you that it’s hiding your content. Your images will show up to you in any tag you’ve placed them in. Your followers will also see your images. But to any non followers your content does not exist.

Why would your images get banned?

  1. Your account is linked to 3rd part apps that post, like or comment for you. Or you’ve paid for followers.
  2. The hashtags you post to have been reported for inappropriate content.
  3. Your posts have been reported multiple times.
  4. You have a business account and aren’t paying for ads.
  5. You post a ton of images a day.

Are your images banned?

  • Go to Instagram and copy the share URL for one of your images.
  • Go to this site and enter in that URL.

The site linked here checks through all your listed hashtags on your image to see if that image is showing up in those hashtag listings. It will then tell you where your image is seen and where it’s been banned.

If you enter your Instagram user name it will only check your most recently posted image. I recommend checking the URLs of a handful of your images instead.

If you’re banned, what can you do?

First note that there is no way or use in reporting this to instagram. They have not admitted that they are banning people only that there is an unsolved glitch. Instead, take steps to attempt to keep your images from being banned in the first place.

  1. Unlink any 3rd party apps.
  2. Switch back to a personal account if yours is set as business – some users have reported this decreasing their traffic for a couple days, but it should be back to normal after.
  3. Take a 48 hour instagram break – this supposedly resets your account.
  4. Check through all your hashtags. If the images posted in one look fishy, stop using that hashtag.
  5. Slow down on posting if you often post more than a few times a day.

These aren’t official fixes, just ones people have found work for them. Change what you’re willing to change and monitor how those changes effect your account.

What I’ve done since discovering my ban

My second account @felanzine does not have any images that come up as banned when using the above link. However my engagement has been way down recently. I switched this account back to ‘personal’ and within 12 hours my engagement was back up. I also noticed through this account that while instagram’s official per post hashtag limit is 30, I can now not use more than 22.

My primary account @jennifernicholewells does have many images banned, as you saw in the screenshots above. I don’t use any 3rd party apps at the moment and in checking through my hashtags everything looks normal. I’ve also only been posting 1 to 2 times per day. I’ve switched this account back to personal. I also noticed in the banned posts, the hashtags I used in my main caption were fine, but the one’s I used in a follow up comment, my images were banned from. So now I’ve paired down what hashtags I will be posting to, and I’m only posting those hashtags in the actual caption of the image. So far this method is working.


Check out the above link and let me know if you’ve been shadow banned and what you’re doing to combat it.

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