Hashtags

Is The Instagram Shadowban Real?

What to do if you think you’ve been shadowbanned on Instagram

Put on your tinfoil hat⁠, lady!⁠ The infamous #shadowban is real. Well, maybe 🤔

There is a lot of conflicting information about whether or not this is an actual phenomenon or simply an Instagram conspiracy theory. There are definitely some instances when Instagram posts do not appear under certain hashtags however the exact reason behind this is unclear. Shadowban or whatever you call it, if this happens to you, you want to try to rectify the situation ASAP.

What is a Shadowban?

Shadowbanning is “the act of blocking or partially blocking a user or their content from an online community such that it will not be readily apparent to the user that they have been banned.” – Wikipedia⁠.

On Instagram, when an account has been “shadowbanned”, content is visible only to the person posting but not other users searching your chosen hashtags.

Why this matters

Hashtags are like search engine keywords - increasing discoverability and searchability. Without them, your content will only be seen by (a small portion of) those who currently follow you. Having your content visible is vital to growing your audience.⁠

Shadowban or Shadowscam? Is the Shadowban real?

Here’s what I’ve discovered through my own research and firsthand experience. It IS normal for posts not to appear under some hashtags. Instagram indexes content based on your caption and the image (or alt-text). If these do not align with the hashtags used, your content may not appear.

Also, if you use very large hashtags, your content may be there but it is not visible due to the sheer volume of posts. All perfectly normal, no need to ⁠call Mulder and Scully just yet 👽

The truth is out there.

The truth is out there.

However, if your content isn’t appearing under ANY of the hashtags you use, there's a good chance you've been shadowbanned.

How to prevent your posts being shadowbanned

Instagram has confirmed that they DO block certain content that fails to comply with their community guidelines but they do not explicitly say exactly what “signals” are taken into account when deciding to block a piece of content.

Anecdotally, “spammy behaviour” such as the use of 3rd party automations to like and comment on posts, posting the same comment on multiple accounts and liking hundreds of posts at a time can incite a shadowban. In addition, if your account is reported by your audience your posts could be hidden.⁠

HOW TO TELL IF YOU'VE BEEN shadowBANNED⁠

It is not immediately apparent that you've been banned because YOU can still see your content. One indication that something is up would be a sudden drop in engagement (engagement can drop for other reasons too - read this post for more on this topic).⁠

Ask someone who is not following you to check the hashtags you've been using to see your posts appear. Remember, if you are using super large hashtags it might be hard to find your content anyway, due to the sheer volume of posts so ask them to check some of your smaller, niched hashtags.⁠

Shadowban: Real or conspiracy?

Shadowban: Real or conspiracy?

What to do if you’ve been shadowbanned

I experienced a “shadowban” firsthand on two new accounts I created; One was a business account and the other a personal account. Here's what I did to lift the ban from my accounts:

  1. I stopped posting completely for 5 days⁠

  2. I reported the problem⁠ to Instagram⁠ (Settings > Help > Report a problem)⁠

  3. When I did post again, I posted natively within the Instagram all (no 3rd party scheduling tools) and I only used a handful of hashtags⁠

  4. I mixed up my hashtags and used different tags for each subsequent post⁠

  5. I made sure I was actually 'being' social and interacting with other accounts - commenting on posts and engaging with others, rather than simply liking posts.⁠

After a couple of days I noticed that the ban had lifted. My posts were appearing under hashtags and my post engagement was back to normal.⁠


Have you experienced a shadowban? What did you do to resolve it?⁠ Share your experience and recommendations in the comments below.