Does Instagram Shadowban Creators?

Over the years, a number of users have pointed to a mysterious Instagram shadowban and its impact on their engagement and reach. This has yet to be confirmed by Instagram, but let’s discuss what causes it and how to avoid it.

What Is an Instagram Shadowban?

Shadowban” isn’t an official Instagram term, but we know that Instagram has the power to deprioritize accounts on the app. Posts and even accounts can be hidden or restricted without the user knowing. Leading to your account or content undiscovered via hashtags and explore page. 
Getting shadowbanned can decrease reach, limit who can see your posts, and seriously affect engagement. And with so many uncertainties surrounding Instagram shadowbans, it can be unnerving for creators and freelancers trying to grow their communities and reach new audiences.
Shadowbanning may not be an official term at Instagram HQ, but there are measures in place to restrict content that could be deemed as “inappropriate.” And trust us, recently content classified as “inappropriate” can literally be anything
In 2020, Instagram’s Adam Mosseri addressed shadowbanning in response to concerns that Black voices were being silenced on the platform. Instagram shadowbans — however, labelled — are here to stay. But as Instagram’s moderation evolves, we hope to see a more accurate and streamlined approach.

What Causes an Instagram Shadowban? & How to Avoid One

It’s not totally transparent how Instagram determines what content gets restricted (or “shadowbanned”) on the platform. However, these five actions are rumoured to significantly increase your likelihood of being penalized:
  • Violating Instagram’s Community Guidelines or posting inappropriate content. This includes posts with violence, sexually suggestive content, and misinformation.
  • Fake engagements, such as paying for likes or comments, using bots to increase followers, and participating in engagement pods.
  • Spammy activity, for instance, using over 30 hashtags in a single post. Some users have also claimed that they’ve been shadowbanned for commenting on too many posts or following too many people within an hour.
  • Using banned hashtags. While Instagram hasn’t released an official list, here’s a blog post with certain hashtags to avoid.
  • Using a hashtag that receives a sudden surge of activity (this is a tricky one! almost everyone can receive a shadowban from this activity). This occurred in June 2020 when users shared information about #BlackLivesMatter. Instagram’s Comms team claimed it was an error — their technology detected the flurry of activity as spam.


How to Avoid an Instagram Shadowban

Taking the above points into consideration, there are some clear steps you can take to avoid being shadowbanned by Instagram. Instagram strategist Alex Tooby published a handy guide about shadowbanning with plenty of takeaways.
Here are four tips to keep in mind:
  • Don’t use software that violates Instagram’s Terms of Service such as bot-like software. Luckily, if you use an Instagram-approved tool like Later, you’ll be a-okay!
  • Don’t use banned or broken hashtags.
  • Avoid big surges in Instagram activity. Instagram imposes limits on user activity to crack down on bots. If you suddenly follow 50 accounts or like too many posts, it may be interpreted as “bot activity”.
  • Avoid spam-like activity, such as copy and pasting the same comment or DM, and following and unfollowing accounts. 

How to Remove an Instagram Shadowban

So, you think you’ve been shadowbanned on Instagram — you’ve followed all of the rules, but your posts still aren’t reaching users, and your engagement is decreasing.
What can you do? Alex Tooby suggests the following:
Report Your Shadowban to Instagram
Remove Apps That Use Autobots
Review Your Hashtags
Take a Break From Instagram
Report Your Shadowban to Instagram 
While Instagram has an official support email, we recommend using the native “Report a Problem” option within the Instagram app.
To do this, simply go to your Instagram Settings, tap Help, and select “Report a Problem.”
A pop-up should appear with a few options. Choose “Something Isn’t Working,” and write a message describing your issue.
Remove Apps That Use Autobots
We get it: using an Instagram scheduler that automatically posts your photos to Instagram is a great way to save time.
But if you use one that isn’t an official Instagram partner, you can end up on the Instagram shadowban list.
To find out if you have any bot services or unapproved apps linked to your account, head to your Instagram settings, tap Security, and then “Apps and Websites”.
Audit Your Hashtags
We’ve spoken about hashtags a lot, but for good reason! Using a banned hashtag is likely to get you shadowbanned on Instagram.
Review your hashtags and search for them on Instagram. If the “Top Posts” section appears but nothing else, it’s likely it’s been banned.
Take a Break From Instagram
Some users have said that taking a few days off of Instagram has helped lift their Instagram shadowban.
This means, no posting, commenting, or even logging onto the app. After your break, there’s a chance you can go back to liking and posting as you normally would.
But remember to engage with everyone manually. It might take more time and effort, but it proves to Instagram that you’re abiding by their Terms of Service (and that you aren’t a bot!).


How Long Does an Instagram Shadowban Last?

At the moment, there isn’t a concrete answer, but it’s rumoured to get lifted within two to three weeks.
However, there are outliers who’ve said it has been a month or longer.

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