What Does Being Shadowbanned on Instagram Mean?

February 11, 2021 • Zachary Amos


Engagement is everything on Instagram, whether you’re running a business account or trying to grow your personal profile. Sometimes, though, you may notice it dropping without any discernible reason why. One possible explanation is that Instagram has shadowbanned your account.

If you spend much time online, especially on Twitter, you’ve probably come across the term “shadowban” before. The concept’s been around for a while, but it’s gained a lot of traction in the past few years. You hear more and more stories about social platforms like Instagram shadowbanning people’s accounts.

So what is a shadowban, and what can you do if you find you’re experiencing one?

What Is a Shadowban?

As you might’ve guessed from the name, a shadowban is more covert than your traditional social media ban. Instead of stopping you from posting, a shadowban prevents others from seeing your posts or at least tries to. If you’re shadowbanned, you won’t know unless you look into it, hence the “shadow” part of the word.

The definition of shadowbanning may vary depending on who you ask and what site you’re talking about. Generally speaking, though, it refers to some kind of limit on your engagement that’s supposed to go unnoticed. On Instagram, that takes the form of hiding your posts from hashtag searches.

Usually, if you use a hashtag on an Instagram post, that post will appear whenever someone searches for that hashtag. If you’re shadowbanned, though, only you and people who already follow you can see your post in these searches. As a result, it’ll be much harder to gain new followers or generate more engagement.

How to Tell If Instagram Has Shadowbanned You

Since you can still see your posts, you may not realize it if you’ve been shadowbanned. If you start to notice your engagement dropping, it could be a sign that you have. When that happens, you can take steps to make sure if you’re dealing with a shadowban or not.

First, post a picture and use a hashtag or two that people don’t use that often. If you use popular hashtags, there could be too many search results to tell why your post isn’t showing. Next, ask some people who don’t follow you to search the hashtag and see if your picture comes up.

If it doesn’t show the first time, wait a few minutes and try again. That will account for any connectivity issues that could prevent your post from showing. If you try a few times and your picture doesn’t come up, then you’re probably shadowbanned.

What to Do If Instagram Shadowbanned You

There are plenty of reasons why Instagram might’ve shadowbanned you. The site uses shadowbans to try to improve user experiences by cracking down on bots and inappropriate content. You may not be guilty of those offenses, but some factors could make Instagram think that you are.

You should first make sure your content abides by Instagram’s terms of use if you think you’ve been shadowbanned. Be careful about posts that may be questionable, even if permissible. Even if something doesn’t break the rules, if enough people report it, Instagram might shadowban you.

If you post, follow, like and comment too often, Instagram may suspect that you’re using a bot. Try to avoid making any significant surges in activity so that you don’t look like a bot. If you do use any bots, consider disconnecting them, since Instagram tries to limit bot activity.

Making the Most of Your Instagram

If you want to experience Instagram fully, you’ll want to get as much engagement as you can. To do that, you have to avoid any shadowbans. Now that you know the signs and how to prevent them, you can use Instagram without worry.