What is the Instagram shadowban, and are you at risk?

Have you heard the rumours circling the internet about the Instagram shadowban? Well, unfortunately, they are true, and so many accounts are at risk.

INSTAGRAM shadowban

What is the shadowban?

Have you noticed that your Instagram engagement is dropping? That you are gaining fewer followers than usual, or perhaps your photos are no longer showing in the hashtag results? If you have answered ‘yes’ then your account may very well have been shadowbanned.

Many users have reported a drop in engagement or shadowbanned after they made the switch to an Instagram business account. However Instagram has yet to report on this, it has been widely discussed on many chat forums.

The sad part about the shadowban is that you may not realise you have been shadowbanned as there are no key features to indicate if you have.


What would cause the shadowban?

1. Using software that violates Instagram’s T&C such as; using Bots, Automated services and Buying Followers.

“You must not create accounts with the Service through unauthorized means, including but not limited to, by using an automated device, script, bot, spider, crawler or scraper.”

To bring it back to basics, using bot programmes to comments, like or gain followers is prohibited and may result in your profile becoming shadowbanned. But please remember, scheduling apps so not apply here.

So how would they know?

Your phone has an IP address (your identity card in the cyber world) so when you use an auto-bot which has been created in Florida, your IP address will be present here, but suddenly your IP address re-routes to Chicago, then to New York… Instagram soon pick up on this as it is not humanly possible to jump from state to state so quickly, pinging up red flags meaning you will be under surveillance.


2. Surges of activity.

Everyone wants to grow their following- its natural, but don’t forget, Instagram keeps track of your habitats and well if you suddenly go on a following spree, or unfollow spree they will know! This also applies if you like a whole bunch of photos in one session.

So how would they know?

A little unknown secret is that Instagram actually has hourly limits. Surprisingly you can only follow and like a number of profiles and images every hour. So really when you spend your Sunday night following all your Twitter Chat friends and liking their IG photos, you are really only flagging your profile to IG who will keep a close watch and there may be the possibility you have invested in an Autobot to do your work.


3.Using the same hashtags.

Are you prone to using the same hashtags for months on end, tagging all photos with the same hashtags? Instagram has got smart to this and actually consider this to be a little spammy (how rude!) My advice for this is to keep your tags fresh and change them weekly. Now I’m not saying you have to completely come up with new hashtags, but try different sequences or drop few hashtags every couple of weeks and recycle them, that way you are beating the IG filter and keeping your images top of the hashtag search.




4. Using banned hashtags

Sometimes Instagram bans or restricts the use of words that may cause offence or been used too many times (hence the spam hashtags). Once a hashtag has been listed as broken or banned your image will not appear in any search results and your account will be targeted for the shadowban.

Some of the banned hashtags- a full list of hashtags can be found here


  • #adulting
  • #alone
  • #americangirl
  • #ariefmirna2015
  • #armparty
  • #asia


As you can see they may seem harmless, but Instagram is a crazy world and sometimes the simplest of things can cause the most harm.

How do you know if you’re using a broken tag?

The most simple way to check if the hashtag is broken is to search for it and if there is no ‘top post’ section- you will find it has been listed. Sometimes there might be a message at the bottom that states the tag has been limited due to abuse. So remove this broken hashtag from your image and you might see an instant lift in engagement and likes.


So have you been shadowbanned?

Step 1) Log into Instagram from a different account, which doesn’t follow your account, then look up one of your recent hashtags. If your image doesn’t show up in that hashtag’s search results when viewing from a different account, there is a good chance you have been shadowbanned.

Step 2) Use this free Instagram Shadowban Tester to check if your account has been shadowbanned. This tool will quickly tell you if your posts appear or not.

How to get un-shadowbanned

By following the steps above and it turns out you have been shadowbanned there are a few ways in which you can un-shadowban yourself-

  1. NEVER use a banned hashtag– do your research. I like to dedicate a couple of hours a week searching hashtags used by the “big” accounts and by using my notes section on my phone I create a list of usable hashtags. By doing this it ensures I can recycle my hashtags and find new and exciting ones that help to boost my likes and followers. 
  2. Be careful what you post. There is nothing worse than trying to gain followers by insulting them. It is every so easy to report profiles and images on IG (I have had to do this once or twice before) and this can really dent your IG image and make you more likely to be shadowbanned.
  3. Ease up on your IG activity. Take a few hours off from scrolling or limit yourself to only a few hours a day liking and following. Also when someone follows you, this isn’t always a good thing. Check out their profile first before following back as they may be an auto-bot or a fake profile which will be removed the next day.
  4. Stop using auto-bots. I have lost count how many emails and dm’s I have received offering me services to grow my account. DELETE, DELETE, DELETE! You can revoke access to any apps you feel may be putting yours at risk. Log onto your Instagram account on a desktop computer and in the ‘edit profile’ area, you will see a tab for ‘Authorized Applications.’ Remove any applications that could potentially be a problem.



In conclusion

There is no reason for your Instagram to be hit by the shadow ban if you are playing by the rules. Remember Instagram followers do come naturally, but you do have to put in some hard work. By creating images and content people want to read is the way to go about this, it may take a little longer, but these are the followers that have found you and enjoy what you have to offer, so stick with them, they are the people you want on your profile!

I hope you have found my guide helpful, and I thank all the forums and website out there that have helped me understand and relay the shadowban to you.

Ashleigh x

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