Victim to an Instagram Shadowban? Here's Why & How to Safegaurd Your Account


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Are You The Victim of an Instagram Shadowban?? Here’s Why & How to Remove it From Your Account!

If you’ve landed on this blog post it’s likely you’ve heard the words “Instagram Shadowban” whispered around Facebook groups and Instagram pods.. This term picked up steam extremely quickly, and while I’m not normally one to jump on the bandwagon (when buzz words go viral like this it’s usually just rumors..) the Instagram Shadowban has some legs and certainly seems to be affecting hundreds of Instagram accounts. I put together this blog post to address everyone’s concerns and give you a plan of action to avoid, or remove any possibility of being shadow banned by Instagram! So if you’re worried about the current state of your account and believe you may have been shadow banned.. keep reading!

Are you a victim of an Instagram Shadowban?? Hundreds of Instagram users are experincing a massive decrease in engagement due to being shadow banned by Instagram. In this post Instagram expert, Alex Tooby breaks down what a shadowban is, why you got one on your Instagram account and how to get rid of it! Must read!

What is an Instagram Shadowban? (& common misconceptions)

Before we get into the nitty gritty of an Instagram Shadowban, keep in mind that Instagram has been implementing a variety of new algorithms since June 2016 and as a result plenty of accounts have seen a drastic decrease in engagement of up to 50% or more! That means, if your engagement isn’t as good as it once was, that doesn’t automatically mean you’ve been hit with an Instagram Shadowban. Additionally, Instagram has stated the following:

instagram shadowban

This clearly states there is a “hashtag glitch” happening, so please consider that as well. (This could also be Instagram’s way of hushing the crowd without admitting they’ve implemented a Shadowban system.. )

Now that we’ve addressed alternative options.. An official Shadowban is (what I believe to be) Instagram’s attempt at filtering out accounts that aren’t complying with their terms. The Shadowban renders your account practically invisible and inhibits your ability to reach new people. More specifically, your images will no longer appear in the hashtags you’ve used which can result in a huge hit on your engagement. Your photos are reported to still be seen by your current followers, but to anyone else, they don’t exist. That means if you have a small or relatively new account, building a following is going to be significantly harder than ever before..

How do I know if I’ve been shadow banned?

To confirm wether or not you’ve been shadow banned, find 3-5 users that do not follow you and ask them to check if your image is appearing within the hashtags you used on that post (keep in mind if you used a tag with 1 million posts associated with it, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to find your image anyway. Instead, check a small hashtag that isn’t updated too regularly).

If all of the people who checked for you do NOT see your image at all, your account may have been shadow banned (don’t worry, we can fix this!) If some of the people still see your image then you most likely have not been shadow banned and are just experiencing a dip in engagement (click here for solutionsor are seeing the results of the “hashtag glitch” mentioned above. 

Confirmed! I've been shadow banned on Instagram.. Click To Tweet

Why did my account get shadow banned?

Instagram has shied away from this topic and have not explicitly stated what causes a shadow ban or that these bans even exist, but in my professional opinion, shadowbans are based on your actions. The more “spammy” they are, the more likely you are to be banned. Here’s a few things you could be doing that could cause an Instagram Shadowban:

  1. You’re using software that violates Instagram’s Terms of Service. This includes bots that “grow” your following for you such as Instagress, Followliker and Mass Planner. Or “Instagram growth services” that claim to do the leg work for you like Boostly, Social Envy and Socially Rich (these companies just plug your information into bots like Instagress for an inflated price!) Additionally if you are using software that posts images for you (not to be confused with apps that send a push notification to your phone when it’s time to post) you are violating Instagram’s Terms of Service. Some of these schedulers include: Grum, Onlypult and Schedugram. Lastly, if you have multiple accounts and you’re using automation on one of them, it could potentially affect your other accounts because they share an IP address.
  2. You’re abusing Instagram’s daily and hourly limits. Yes, there are limits to how many actions you can take per day on Instagram. This includes the amount of photos you like, the amount of comments you leave and how many people you follow or unfollow. Depending on the age of your account, your limits may be different but in most cases you shouldn’t exceed 150 likes, 60 comments and 60 follows/unfollows per hour.Instagram Shadowban - Instagram follow/unfollow limits
  3. You’re using a broken or abused hashtag. With millions of users on Instagram, it’s hard to control what everyone shares and how they categorize their content. Sometimes a hashtag as innocent as #beautyblogger can become overrun with inappropriate content such as nudity, spam or racially insensitive images. When this happens and Instagram takes notice, they either remove the hashtag completely or limit it’s usage. It seems that when you use one of these hashtags on your photo it can effectively “break” the rest of your hashtags and cause you to not rank for ANY of them.
  4. Your account is continually being reported. Reporting accounts is the quickest way to get Instagram’s attention and warn them of an account that is violating the terms of service or the community guidelines (spamming, infringing copyright, posting inappropriate content, etc). If this happens to your account, Instagram may fully disable it, or they may just throw you in the shadowban club.
Instagram shadowbans are highly dependent on your actions. Here's 5 things you should never do: Click To Tweet

How can I get my account back to normal?

  1. Stop using all forms of automation and revoke access from your API. This is a simple one: STOP USING AUTOBOTS TO GROW YOUR FOLLOWING. Listen, I get it, I get the appeal, it saves time, it’s easy to implement, you see results pretty quickly, but let’s be real, this is not an authentic way to build a business. When you leave automated comments on your potential clients feeds, they can tell. When you follow and unfollow the same person 5 times in 4 days, they notice, and those types of actions reflect really poorly on your brand or businesses reputation. Remember it’s always better to have 100 followers who truly love and support what you do, than 10,000 followers who are using autobots to like your posts and never ever click through to your website or purchase your products & services. Once you’ve deleted and logged out of any and all automation services, you need to check and see if any of them are still attached to your Instagram account. Do this by logging into via desktop. Navigate to your feed by clicking the man icon in the top right, then click ‘Edit Your Profile’. From here click ‘Authorized Applications’ on the left and check for anything suspicious, or anything you don’t recognize. (Instagress and the like don’t properly use Instagram’s API so they probably wont show up here, but you might see other random sites you logged into in the past or apps you downloaded). For anything you don’t recognize or aren’t certain are safe to use, revoke their access by clicking the big blue “Revoke Access” button. Instagram shadowban - revoke access to apps
  2. Remove broken or abused hashtags from your set & delete them from old posts. Go through all of the hashtags you use, one by one and make sure that none of them are limited by Instagram. If they have been limited you will either see nothing at all (the entire tag has been removed), or you’ll see just one page of images followed by a notice that states the tag has been hidden due to abuse. If you find any tags that fall into this category remove them from your hashtag set and make note of not using them in the future. If you don’t have a set of tags you use consistently, you’ll have to double check all of your tags before adding them to new posts. Lastly, if you did find you were using a broken hashtag, go back through your old posts and remove the hashtag from those posts by either editing your caption and deleting the tag, or deleting the comment that contains your hashtags.
    instagram shadowban - broken hashtags
  3. Take a break for 48 hours then engage manually and abide by Instagram’s limits. Complete the steps above, then take a two day break from posting, engaging or even logging in. Some users have reported this break gives your account some time to reset. After two days (or however long you choose to take a break – hey we all deserve one sometimes!) you can begin engaging with your audience again. But remember, it must be manual! Yes it will take more time and effort but manually engaging with people on Instagram is your best bet to staying clear of an Instagram Shadowban and it will also help you build relationships with your audience and potential customers. If you want to learn the best, safe and effective methods to quickly gaining a targeted following on Instagram without the use of automation, check out my course, Infamous to Influential.instagram shadowban solution - infamous to influential
  4. Avoid any “growth hacks” and abide by all community guidelines. This isn’t the time to be taking advantage of loopholes or breaking rules. For example, there is a “growth hack” going around that suggests adding 30 hashtags to a comment, then editing your caption and adding an additional 30 there. This leaves you with 60 tags when normally you’re only allowed to use 30. Yes, this does appear to work (however the reported uptick in engagement isn’t that much) but like I said, this isn’t a time to be sneaking around behind Instagram’s back. If you follow the rules set out by Instagram you really have no reason to be shadowbanned. As for the community guidelines, you can refer to them here.
  5. Report the problem to Instagram. Instagram and Facebook are notoriously hard to get in contact with but reporting your problem is worth a shot. You can do this from inside your Instagram app – just go to your profile, select the cog icon in the top right and scroll down until you see “report a problem”. Click that, then select “something isn’t working” and type a short message about what you’re experiencing. I recommend saying that your posts aren’t being categorized in the hashtags you used (not that your engagement has dropped; that’s not really a concern for them). Feel free to repeat this process multiple times a day. Don’t hold out hope that Instagram will ever reply, but hey, everything helps!instagram shadowban - report to instagram
  6. Switch back from a Business Account to a Personal Account. Alright, this one is a bit of a shot in the dark, but realistically, I’ve been saying this since the feature first came out.. Instagram is owned by Facebook and Facebook is known for limiting reach and engagement in order to force you into purchasing ads. They may be clumping “business owners” into the shadowban club because we’re more likely to need the engagement. By switching back to a personal account you could potentially pull yourself away from their slimey grip.

Based on my research this is all I have for you today. This issue is rapidly developing so if I find out any new information or possible remedies I will be certain to add them to this blog post. In the meantime, make sure you’re implementing my tips above to keep yourself safe from an Instagram Shadowban!


Learn how to attract followers, increase engagement & make more sales on Instagram!

Have you been the victim of an Instagram Shadowban? Did any of these solutions work for you?

Let me know in the comments!

> Keep on reading..

  • Giovani says:

    Never had any issues with their service was actually really good.

  • Pankhuri says:

    Firstly, thank u so much!
    I have a question. So its wrong to use autofollowing apps, but are autolikers also harmful for my account? Yes, i know i shouldn’t use autoliker since the likes arent real. But I’ve noticed a few fake likes give a boost to the post, paving the way for real likes. So should I or should I not use autoliker?

  • Anna says:

    Hi Alex. Unfortunately I’m “a victim” of shadowban. Don’t really know the reason but the only what I can think of is using the same hashtags for my photos or I liked to many pictures per hour but after couple days being off instagram I’m trying to catchup with likes to my followers photos. Your article helped me a lot. I’m logged out Instagram for next few days and fingers crossed everything will go back to normal:(

  • Stani says:

    Great post, Thanks. My issue though s that my hashtags appear in the hashtag feed for few seconds ( less than a minute ) and disappear permanently right after , so nobody can see my images i post only my followers. I am wondering if this is a Shadowban or something else? I tried posting on my personal account same image I post on my business and a different image, but same things regarding hashtags today. Wondering f Black Friday has something to do with that? I post few times a week and my content and likes and followers are totally real . I haven’t tried to asked a friend to unfollow me to see if they can see my images by looking at those hashtags. I also tried the app about Shadowban to see if my image is shadowbanned but it says that is totally good and visible, but apparently nobody sees it. Can you help? Do you have any answers for that?

  • nathalie says:

    Hello Alex Tooby,

    I am a manager at a marketing agency that offers social media services. We recently started experiencing “suspicious activity”. some of our clients are in a different state that we are in. Im guessing this is due to the different locations that are being used to log in. I have not found a solution to this increasingly frustrating issue. Do you have any suggestions??

    • Alex Tooby says:

      Hmm, I’m not too sure on this one Nathalie. I would just encourage your clients to not be logged in and interacting on IG at the same time you are. I think that’s when the problems start!

  • Nicole says:

    Just delete the post that triggered the ban and anything you posted after that. Worked for me. Repost them. It’s probably that you used the same hashtags or a broken tag. Switch up your tags. Only use 8-10.

  • Ralf says:

    hi. what if i am on a personal account do i have to switch to business account??? i also found a website where you can check if you are shadow banned or not – is this accurate? because i checked and some of my post are banned some are not. im kinda confused.

    • Alex Tooby says:

      No you don’t have to switch. I wrote a post about business profiles here that might help.

      As for that website, my audience and I have determined that it isn’t accurate. It basically says any post that has hashtags in the caption are safe and those that have hashtags in the comments are shadowbanned, but with testing we’ve proven that not to be true.

  • […] 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 […]

  • still adam says:

    Shadow banned from the start… never released. I use VPNs, maybe that is why? Tried a new account, still the same. Very frustrating. No business account, just benign personal pics. And still… shadow banned.

  • Rachel says:

    I got Shadowbanned because a photo I posted almost a year ago – February 2017 – was removed due to on “breaking community standards.” The thing was, it DIDN’T break standards. There was some nudity in it, but no nippels, and it’s was ART, taken by a professional photographer, and looked as such.

    My engagement isn’t down drastically. I went from getting 150-200 likes on photos to 50 likes. I haven’t been that long in months. I have around 2000 followers. I am so sad – Instagram is my favorite social media site and favorite way to build my business – and now I feel like I’m screwed because some asshole reported my photo as against community standards when it was tasteful art and not breaking the technical standards.

    How do I get out of this current predicament? Does a Shadowban ever go away?

    • Alex Tooby says:

      Sorry to hear that Rachel! Keep in mind that there has been a drastic reduction in engagement for everyone this year so your decrease could also be related to that. I would keep posting as normal and make sure to engage with other accounts (commenting and liking) to show IG you’r a real user and intend to use the platform properly.

      My photos on menandcoffee have been pulled down a few times for the same reason and while I did see a decrease in engagement for a while, it’s boosting back up lately, so have hope!

  • Jenny I says:

    I was shadowbanned since November so going on 2 and a bit months now and still no luck getting this lifted.
    I was using “archie” for a few months then stopped as soon as I noticed my instagram had become so limited. I didn’t realise this app was a danger to my instagram which sucks.
    I have tried deleting instragram, contacting them, updating.
    I am now trying to delete all ghost followers to see if that does anything.. If not I will not log in to my instgram app for a few days and see if that helps.

    Does anyone know if this ban is permanent.. I sure hope not 🙁 I have almost 18k followers and don’t want to start all over again 🙁

    • Alex Tooby says:

      In most cases the shadowban is not permanent but it could depend on the actions your account has taken. What happens when you upload a post? Do you get any interaction? You might want to keep posting and lightly commenting and liking daily to show Instagram you’re a real, user and not a bot!

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