The Instagram shadowban. By now you’ve probably heard this term a lot in the Instasphere, but what is it, are you affected and how do you solve this?
Maybe you’ve noticed that your Instagram engagement dropped drastically since the beginning of 2017. I know I have. My engagement dropped by 400 likes. Shocking? Definitely. After the first stages of panic and I must admit some rage, I decided to do some (read: a LOT!) of research. The answer: Shadowban.
To start off, Instagram never admitted to a shadowbanning system. They attributed the lack of engagement to a ‘glitch in the system’. Although word on the streets is that this is a new algorithm. So what exactly is a shadowban?
What does the Instagram shadowban mean?
An Instagram shadowban is basically a ban that makes your pictures invisible under every hashtag you use. The reason it’s called a shadowban is because for you and your current followers, everything will seem normal and you wont notice any pictures missing. So how to discover if you’re cursed by the Instagram shadowban? That part is easy.
The Instagram shadowban test
This test requires you to create a second Instagram account (I call it my inspector gadget account) or enlist the help of a friend.
- Your ‘inspector gadget’ account should NOT be following the account you want to test. For example, I have 2 accounts: @Stylememoires which is my blog account, and a personal account that does not follow @Stylememoires. I’m using my personal account as my Inspector Gadget account.
- Post a new picture with the account you suspect is shadowbanned. Create a personal testing hashtag or use a hashtag that has very few posts.
- If your Inspector Gadget account can see your post then you’re not shadowbanned. Maybe look at different factors. If your account cannot see your posts then, my friend, welcome to Instagram hell.
Should I worry?
Well, yes and no. The word on the streets is that shadowbanning is not permanent, although some unlucky IG’ers have been banned for months! But not to worry you can get your ban lifted. It’s not easy and it may take a while to prove to Instagram that you are not a bot or spam account, but if your account is important to you, it’s worth taking the time to do this.
How to get your shadowban lifted?
- Report your shadowban problem DAILY. Instagram has hundreds of million users and it’s EXTREMELY hard to get in touch with them. If you only send in your complaint once, you have a 1 in #million chance to get seen. So, keep reporting it. When reporting don’t say: ‘My engagement is low’ or ‘I’ve been shadowbanned’. Honestly they don’t care… and no one but you cares. The only thing Instagram cares about is whether their program is functioning well. So tell them that your pictures are not showing up under the hashtags you used. Take screenshots using your own account and your ‘inspector gadget account’. Attach these screenshots EVERY TIME you report your issue.
- Take a break. I know this is scary because you feel like you will lose the followers your already have. But taking a break can help you get off the ‘spammy accounts list’. How long a break should you take? that’s not entirely clear. Some people take 3 days and some a week. With this it comes down to trial and error. Also post Instastories letting your followers know what’s going on. No shame in saying the algorithm isn’t being nice to you. Everyone noticed that Instagram isn’t the same as it was before. Be honest. Honesty is better than long periods of unexplained silence.
- Stop using hashtags in the comments. Word on the web is that this is now flagged as spammy behaviour. We can never be sure with Instagram, so for now just post your tags in the caption.
- Don’t use too many hashtags. Yes you have a 30 hashtag limit per post. But if you’re banned all your actions are watched carefully by the algorithm so lay low and use less hashtags Try sticking to 10 – 15.
- Reset your password. In some cases resetting your password with a new authentication code will lift your ban. Since the code is meant to prove that you are you (and human) and not a bot.
Have you managed to avoid the shadowban so far, but are you looking for ways to stay off Instagram’s naughty list? Read the 7 steps to avoid getting shadowbanned.