Is the Instagram Shadowban Killing Your Engagement?

The newly discovered Instagram Shadowban is having users go crazy. Dropping engagement by making newly available posts invisible to non-followers. The instagram shadowban is causing growth to come to a screeching halt for affected accounts.

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What Exactly is the Instagram Shadowban?

First off, Instagram has been implementing new algorithms since June of 2016, as a result many accounts have seen a significant drop in engagement. Some accounts have dropped as low as 50% in engagement!

Now this doesn’t mean that if your account has been decreasing in engagement, that it’s been shadowbanned. Instagram stated the following:

remove instagram shadowban

All this talk of losing engagement could simply be an issue Instagram is trying to resolve with their hashtag algorithm. However, Alex Tooby believes that this could be Instagram’s way of disguising the announcement of the so called “shadowban”.

Instagram Shadowban:  Shadowban, by definition, is the act of blocking a user from an online community in such a way that they don’t realize that they’ve been banned. In Instagram’s case, shadowbanning involves hiding your Instagram posts from users who don’t follow you. This is detrimental to an accounts growth!

Instagram’s statement only reinforces the possibility of a shadowban system. Their focus on content creation while diminishing the strengths of hashtags gives support to Alex Tooby’s assumption.

Understand hat hashtags are a major gateway to organic target audiences. Having an account shadowbanned could lead to a huge decrease in followers and leads!


What Causes an Account to be Shadowbanned?

Instagram has yet to put out a formal statement as to the cause of shadowbanning. However, we do have some possible causes of the infamous “Instagram Shadowban”.

  1. Your Using Software that Violates Instagram’s Terms of ServiceThis includes but is not limited to, fake follower websites, autoposting websites(not to be confused with push notifications like Buffer), fake likes websites and many others. Instagram has been cracking down on this and has even caused MassPlanner and Instagress to be shut down.
  2. Your Exceeding your Daily/Hourly Limits. You have a limit as to how much you can engage within a given time frame. This engagement extends from likes to follows. Each engagement method is given a max amount per time period that cannot be exceeded. However, there is a 3 month growth process that enables your account to earn higher engagement rates as time moves on. Depending on the age of your account you receive 150 likes, 60 comments, and 60 follow/unfollow per hour.
  3. Your using a broken or abused hashtag. Instagram has millions of users to keep track of. Monitoring each one on a daily basis is next to impossible. However, Instagram can monitor hashtags. As of last year innocent hashtags such as #elevator can become overrun with nudity, spam and racially insensitive material. When Instagram realizes that a hashtag has been “broken” they either ban or limits its use. Utilizing any broken hashtag on your post can stop you from ranking for that hashtag and others. Preventing you from ranking at all!
  4. Your account is continually being reported. Violating the terms of service or Community Guidelines (copyright, spam, infringement, etc.) is the fastest way to get on Instagram’s radar. Instagram may fully disable your account or give you a lengthy shadowban to put your account in timeout.


How Do I know If I Have Been Shadowbanned?

To determine if your account is a victim of  shadowbanning. Gather 4-5 users that do not follow you (you can friends unfollow temporarily for this). Have them check to see if your post is visible for a specific hashtag. Use a small hashtag that is not used by millions to discover your post quickly.

If no one can see your post is is possible you have been banished to the shadow realm. If some of the users see your post, then it’s more likely that your engagement has simply just dropped on your account (click here for solutions).

In addition, there are softwares that will detect if your account has been shadowbanned. But use them wisely, if they ask for login credentials it’s possible that the site is a squeeze page to steal accounts.

If your account has been shadowbanned, fear not we have some ways to remove the instagram shadowban!

remove instagram shadowban

How Do I Remove Instagram Shadowban?

Instagram has yet to release a full statement, giving insight to the remedy of the shadowban virus. However, through extensive research we have compiled some of the top solutions that users have utilized to remove the Instagram Shadowban.

Here is 7 Ways to Remove Instagram Shadowban:

  1. Go cold turkey. Reduce your activity significantly. Try to post and engage the bare minimum. Some users have gone 3 days,
    others 2 weeks, before the ban is lifted. The lack of activity appears to be a reset button for your account.
  2. Delete Hashtags from recent post. Instagram claims to have a “hashtag glitch”. Utilizing “broken hashtags” in your post may be infecting your other hashtags. Essentially, “breaking” all of them in the process.
    Remove hashtags from recent post. This trick helps a lot of people and it appears to be the fastest way to remove the Instagram shadowban. In addition, users have reported changing up hashtags keeps your account somewhat protected. It signifies to Instagram that you are an active user and not a bot.
  3. Place Hashtags in Caption. Placing hashtags in the comments allows for your post to appear clean and concise. However, users have reported that putting hashtags in the comments has gotten their post shadowbanned in 1-2 hrs. Place your hashtags in the caption. Utilize bullet points or hyphens to push the hashtags farther down to keep your post clean and concise.
    Summer days are the best!

    #summer #summerfun #yrcharisma #apexpack 
  4. Don’t Overload with hashtags. I am a firm believer in utilizing all 30 hashtags, each hashtag is opportunity to reach a different spectrum of your target audience. Limiting your hashtags limits your growth. However, some users have reported the ban being lifted after they:
    • Remove hashtags from old post
    • Post hashtags in caption
    • Use less than 30 hashtags
  5. “Report a Problem” to Instagram through the app: This is the simplest and most effetive way to contact Instagram.

    A few people are diligent enough to report the issue continuously until it was fixed.

    • Go in the Instagram Settings
    • Select “Report a Problem”
    • Select “Something isn’t working”.
      Go on Facebook and search for Instagram (App page) and select “Send a Message”.
      Send an email at
  6. Do not switch to business profile. When you switch to a business profile you signal to Instagram that you are a business. Instagram generates much of their revenue off paid ads from business and brands. Remember in 2007 when Facebook made pages’ organic search nonexistent?
    Well hello? Facebook owns Instagram. So it makes sense that they would cross pollinate their strategies. It is only natural that Instagram will make businesses pay more for reach, engagement, and followers. Those handy tools that accompany a business account are not free.
  7. Switch back to a personal account. But remember to unlink your Instagram profile from your facebook page. The two go hand in hand. Since Facebook Pages are the advertising platform for both Facebook and Instagram.
Sum Up:
1. Go Cold Turkey
2. Delete Hashtags from recent post
3. Place Hashtags in Caption
4. Don’t Overload with hashtags.
5. Report a Problem
6. Do not switch to business profile
7. Switch back to a personal account
My Thoughts:

Is Instagram cracking down on black hat strategies? Yes! The Instagram Shadowban is just the beginning. It is my belief that as Instagram continues to grow by the hundreds of millions every year that their algorithm, community guidelines, and other tools may change in order to restrict those abusing this power platform. However, I do find it rather overzealous to shadowban an account for using consistent hashtags. Hashtags are the bread and butter of organic growth. Simply because we have done our research and found the most effective hashtags for our industry does not warrant a shadowban. But like Facebook, Instagram will soon adopt similar attributes to generate revenue from their users. Becoming a more brand driven platform appears to be the direction that Instagram is heading for.


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