When Instagram made a recent statement encouraging users to focus on their business aims, this was further proof of how the platform is tackling inauthentic behaviour. For many users, this also explained why they were subjected to an Instagram shadowban.
Is the Instagram Shadowban a real thing?
Well, it’s true that Instagram will often change algorithms which might lead users to wrongfully believe they were subjected to an Instagram shadowban. However, a change in algorithms cannot always explain why some accounts experience a significant decrease in followers etc and a shadowban is often the most likely reason this happens.
Either way, it’s frustrating to create great content only to realize your posts are not showing up in the feed for other users. And it’s just as frustrating to find out that your content is not featuring in the hashtag section or on the new Instagram Explore page.
In this article, we take a closer look at shadowbanning on Instagram, why shadowbanning exists and why it might even happen in the first place.
What is Instagram Shadowbanning exactly?
Shadowbanning is when a user’s content is blocked on social media. While you may not be aware this is happening, Instagram shadowbanning essentially means that your content will not appear on another user's feed, unless they follow your account already.
You can still post on Instagram when this is happening but reach is everything for social media which really defeats the purpose of creating content in the first place. It’s also something that can “fly under the radar” because Instagram can partially block your efforts without drawing your attention to this restriction in the immediate term.
Instagram shadowbanning can also apply to the comment function. You might comment freely during this time but your comments will not be visible to other users. As if that’s not enough, your posts will not feature in the hashtag section or Instagram Explore!
And there is way more. You don’t receive any notification that an Instagram shadowban is taking place. In most instances, users only learn of an Instagram shadowban when another user informs them of how they no longer see that user’s content. At the same time, if you pay close attention to the relevant statistics, an Instagram shadowban is most often accompanied by a very significant reduction in terms of followers, comments and engagement.
Why you might experience a Shadowban on Instagram
Shadowbanning is also nothing new. In fact, Citadel had a bulletin board system (BBS) during the 1980’s in which they deployed a shadowban to restrict certain users. In case you might be wondering, this BBS was a computer software and the equivalent of a modern day online forum in which users take part in various conversations.
As for why this might happen, partially concealing a user’s content is a way to deter trolls and spam. It’s also a way for Instagram to encourage better behaviour and eliminate problematic user’s, not to mention get rid of any unnecessary comments.
Instagram also has a clear set of terms and conditions which every user must follow. Shadowbanning can help filter out users that break these rules, while the process is also extremely useful for penalising any accounts that use inauthentic measures. In other words, some users buy followers and use bots to build their following and this behaviour provides absolutely no benefit for other users or the platform in general.
Is Instagram Shadowbanning happening today?
Shadowbanning is not exclusive to Instagram and a shadowban is also not the end of the world for affected users. For instance, there’s a recent documentary called “Out of Shadows” that dives into a very sinister side of politics and Hollywood in particular. Without going into detail, the documentary makes some highly controversial suggestions and allegations which led to a rather swift shadowban on Youtube.
However, this documentary still managed to go viral and gain more than 15 million views in just a few weeks. You see, social media platforms need to be selective or specific when they shadowban which meant that YouTube was unable to restrict the multiple channels to which the film was also re-uploaded.
Now, just so you know, I do believe the above video should be viewed with caution. While Out of Shadows might be an interesting watch, there are potentially false accusations in the video and more than a few unsubstantiated claims. In fact, there are many things wrong with the film and social platforms are probably right to take action on this occasion. The truth is, as with Instagram, the reasons for experiencing a shadowban are most often for the right reasons and to maintain standards in general.
Anyway, you get the point, a shadowban on Instagram is not final and what happened with “Out of the Shadows” is another example of what can happen when a shadowban is deployed on any social media platform. What’s more, the fact that more than 15 million people have already watched this film shows that a shadowban is not the end of the world and there is always a way to obtain better reach on social media.
How to avoid or reverse a Shadowban on Instagram
Building an authentic following on Instagram is not easy and most users depend on engagement and hashtags to grow. For this reason, you might feel disheartened or even angry to discover your account has been subjected to an Instagram shadowban.
Let’s take a look at how you can work around a shadowban or resolve this issue:
Stop using bots and tools to automate your growth
If you use bots on Instagram, it’s time to stop. Instagram hates anything and everything to do with bots. As long as you use them, you can expect a shadowban on Instagram!
Just so you know, Instagram discourages this kind of practice because they want users to focus on building a community with real users and authentic followers.
Research your hashtags
Hashtags are so important on Instagram but it often happens that certain hashtags will become the target of spam or inappropriate posts. When this happens, Instagram can block this hashtag and potentially place a shadowban on accounts that continue to use it. With this in mind, do some research before committing to any particular hashtags.
Refrain from inappropriate posts or comments
Are you posting any potentially inappropriate content? Maybe you like to engage in rather heated conversations in the comment section? Believe it or not, most users have reported accounts for this kind of behaviour on more than one occasion. With this in mind, a series of reports can cause Instagram to shadowban your account.
Don’t post, comment or follow too quickly
Instagram also hates when users post, engage or comment too quickly. It’s a sign that users are not really paying attention or engaging in a genuine way. For example, if you follow fifty people in just thirty minutes, Instagram will view this as inauthentic behaviour.
It also makes sense because Instagram is all about community nowadays and taking time to create meaningful connections is a sign that users understand the process.
Remove applications that are attached to your account
When you click on “edit profile”, check there are no apps in the “authorized applications” section. This is exactly where you can identify bots and “revoke” access which removes them from your profile. In time, Instagram will notice and appreciate the absence of these bots.
Consider a short break from Instagram
Believe it or not, taking a break from the platform is a good way to help remove any restrictions due to Instagram shadowbanning. While no set amount of time is confirmed by Instagram in this sense, many users claim a two day break can reset the system. Now, that’s not to say you cannot browse Instagram during this time but rather to advise taking a break from posting and commenting might resolve the issue for you.
Shadowbanning and focusing on your Instagram goals
Instagram shadowbanning is a real thing but you will never receive a notification to say that a shadowban is in place. For most users, you might simply notice a drop in engagement or followers but this is also hard to spot with algorithms changing so often.
Either way, an Instagram shadowban doesn't have to spell disaster for your account and this is something you can use to clean up your online presence. In other words, if you experience a shadowban, then now is a good time to deploy some of the advices:
- Stop using bots and automation
- Research your hashtags
- Refrain from posting inappropriate content or comments
- Don’t engage to quickly
- Consider taking a short break to get a cleaner start
It’s also important to remember that using Instagram shadowbanning as an excuse for any decline in engagement or reach is futile. True, shadowbanning is not a good thing but focusing on your objectives and the positives will always prove more beneficial. If you wish to learn how to grow authentic followers without automation on Instagram then check our guide - How to Get Real Followers For Instagram 2020.
Moral of the story? Instagram shadowbanning can be either avoided or reversed, and the way to achieve Instagram success is to focus on your goals instead of hashtags.