Have You Been Shadowbanned On Instagram?

Noticed a drop in reach and engagement lately? You might be shadowbanned.

Have you been shadowbanned on Instagram? “Shadowban” is a unique phrase also known sometimes as “stealth banning,” “ghost banning,” and “comment ghosting.” Rumour has it that the popular Instagram social media network uses this tactic to manage its users.

Apparently, being shadowbanned is a way to secretly limit your reach and exposure on social networks, all without you having a clue it’s happening.

Once your account is shadowbanned, it’s far more difficult for your posts to be seen by your audience. If you’re using Instagram as part of your business-related marketing, it could spell trouble.

It’s no surprise that it will hamper your ability to get views and a following from your audience.

Disclaimer: we are not saying that shadowbanning really exists. It’s something many people believe to be true and that’s why this article was written. We have no proof of shadowbanning by Instagram or other social media platforms. Until such time as it’s confirmed, this article is pure speculation. It’s just to help you if you are convinced your account has been shadowbanned.

Let’s look into the mysterious shadowban and what it could mean for your brand.

Here’s what being shadowbanned on Instagram means

First of all, Instagram has publicly stated that “shadowbanning” does not occur on its platform, check out their response to this issue here.

However, many people have checked their analytics and noticed drops in performance across all metrics (likes, engagement, comments, shares etc.) at one point or another, and hence, the idea of shadowbanning was born.

So this is a bit of an urban legend and we don’t know if it’s real or not.

At the end of the day, we know that these platforms have massive algorithms working behind the scene and it’s very possible that your posts are being inadvertently “hidden” from your followers.

What’s more, being shadowbanned would be so subtle, you won’t even realise it’s happened until probably much later when your new follower count slows to a crawl and your posts receive precious little engagement.

Why could users be shadowbanned on Instagram?

There are several reasons users become shadowbanned on various leading social networks in the world.

First of all, is non-compliance with their policies. Secondly, your posts might contain images or hashtags that are pushing the boundaries and deemed unfit for regular human consumption.

The good news is that it’s a way to uphold a high standard for the content on the platform.

Why are spam detectors so important?

Computer software and technology have grown leaps when it comes to machine learning. Basically, machines are able to detect when activity is computer-based or human behaviour.

Machines can work with no time limitations, making their activity abnormal and irregular. Machines can generate unsolicited content. This content often ends up spamming user’s emails and social network accounts.

Most spam filters contain:

  • Content filters — checks for words often used in spam email
  • Header filters — checks the header to see if it is spam-related
  • Rule-based filters — this is a customised type of filter created to look for specific spam activity as per the rules of the network
  • Blacklist filters — it checks if the IP address is safe and blocks the emails if the address is not trusted

Spam filters thus help create a better user experience. Still, some Instagram users are not abiding by certain rules of the network and this often leads to a shadowban.

If you’ve bought “likes” and “followers”, this could trigger a social media platform to clamp down on your reach. If you’ve subscribed to a bot service that automatically “follows/unfollow” accounts then you are flirting with danger and are putting your entire account at risk.

Reasons for being shadowbanned on Instagram

Instagram has special algorithms that flag certain behaviour by the users online. When your posts are suspicious or inappropriate the network flags it as such, and it is easy then to be shadowbanned.

You can think of it like a penalty system to punish users who don’t follow the rules of the social media network.

As mentioned earlier, using bots to automatically follow and unfollow accounts or comment on posts is a terrible idea. While it might seem that bots make your life easier and save you time, it’s basically seen by the platforms as cheating.

And cheaters will be harshly dealt with.

Hashtags are a vital part of your Instagram strategy. It’s one of the best ways to be discovered on the platform but you can get hashtags wrong. In short, users who add unrelated hashtags to their posts risk being shadowbanned by Instagram.

What is an unrelated hashtag? Well, if you post an image of your dog, you most likely wouldn’t use: #soccerlife #fitmomsrule #bestaccountant UNLESS your caption specifically ties in with the image you post.

Also, do your hashtag research because some hashtags are associated with unrelated content.

For example, your target audience might be female entrepreneurs so you decide to include the hashtag #strongwomen in your caption.

But imagine for a moment that most of the time, #strongwomen is used on posts relating to female powerlifters and bodybuilders.

In this case, the hashtag doesn’t match your content at all. You will be better off using #girlboss or #femtrepreneur.

This was a random example to illustrate a point. Maybe #strongwomen is perfect for female entrepreneurs. The point is: do your research!

To save yourself the trouble of being shadowbanned, use hashtags that relate to your content.

Online networks don’t appreciate robot behaviour. Too many unnatural likes, comments and general online behaviour may see you compared to a spammer or a bot and sent to the “shadowbanned zone”. This is totally not your fault but could be a factor regardless.

While this might seem a bit unreasonable, apparently following people too soon and too many at a time can lead to a ban. This is probably because most automation tools have the ability to do this which might make you look like a bot to the algorithm.


Whether or not shadowbanning exists, rules and policies definitely do and generally serve to make Instagram a better community for us all.

How not to be shadowbanned by Instagram

First off, when running your online marketing, it goes without saying that you need to toe the line.

Networks like Instagram and Facebook can help you built an audience of potential clients. That being said, they can smack you down with no warning if you breach their policies. You must follow the rules and have everything work as smoothly as possible.

You don’t want to be banned on any network because this could hurt your online reputation. What’s more, is that being banned will decrease your chances of interacting with your audience. It makes it seem as if you’ve gone “AWOL” (Absent Without Official Leave) or “MIA” for that matter. Which is not part of your brand strategy to say the least.

The potential change in views and follows can make it hard and some people have to re-start from, scratch. A fresh beginning may help them re-establish a good reputation.

To solve this problem — comply with the rules

  • No spamming allowed! — Don’t spam fellow users, because that isn’t good for anybody. In the long-run, it may result in a drop in content activity or lead to a shadowban.
  • Remove flagged posts — If you think a post or comment is causing damage, remove it.
  • Pick hashtags with care — Avoid linking your post with an unrelated or undesirable hashtag.
  • Remove third parties — If you have linked your account with other parties and software that may be causing you to be shadowbanned, then disconnect from it. Certain software and plug-ins are good to have but not all will benefit.
  • Take a break in-between posting — don’t be too quick on the posting and follows. Being real means you’ll take a break in-between. This is realistic behaviour on your Instagram account.

More tips to help solve shadowbanning on Instagram include:

  • Removing offensive/inappropriate hashtags from shadowbanned posts.
  • Don’t use hashtags or words that may have been previously banned
  • Use the Triberr shadowban tester to see if your post might be compromised by a shadowban
  • Cut out the automation because it reflects as spam behaviour

It is easy to become confused by what a shadowban is and a drop in audience engagement. The thing is, when engagement is less, it also results in fewer views or hard to find content.

The takeaway from being shadowbanned on Instagram

Always keep things real!

Social media might be an online community but the words “social” and “community” are imperative here.

The idea is that you engage consistently and authentically with your audience.

People want to engage with human beings and not bot-influenced software strategies. Since everything takes time to develop, so too does your online presence. It’s not easy for people to find you in a month or two after launching your social media account and/or website. Yet, with time and regular posting, more people will find you.

Does it feel like your Instagram account is influenced by the woes of shadowbanning? Why not have a check and see if everything is in order. As we’ve mentioned above, there are ways to solve being shadowbanned on Instagram.

Even if shadowbanning doesn’t exist, your audience and the algorithms undoubtedly prefer original, authentic content. So these strategies will improve your online presence regardless.

Originally published at https://blog.bigdomino.co.za on November 18, 2019.



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Big Domino Marketing

Big Domino Marketing

There is nothing like… loving your craft. We find pleasure in finding ways of making more money for our clients across the globe through digital marketing.