What is Shadowban on Instagram 1

Instagram shadow banning: when your engagement suddenly collapses

Something seems to be moving on the popular platform. It looks like Instagram is pulling into the fight against bots and spam. A blessing for annoyed users and an announcement to all users who have not understood social media. However, the progress comes with a few stumbling blocks - shadow banning, for example, is currently a hotly debated topic on the Internet.

Nothing done for too long

Bot activities on Instagram have recently increased more and more - to the annoyance of users who do without such methods and want to build a real community. The operators have now apparently noticed that the effects could also have a negative effect on advertising customers and are finally taking action.

After watching what was happening with Instagram automation with the help of 3rd party apps for far too long idly, Instagram put an end to the most popular automation app, Instagress, last week. The effect was immediately noticeable to many users. Instagrammers report a massive decline in their engagement and the loss of a number of followers.

For weeks now, there has also been news of the Internet's curtailing of reach, known as “shadow banning” in English-speaking countries. The affected users can usually hardly explain the Shadow Ban. Because many of them deliberately do without automation tools, which are known to lead to consequences such as blocking. But what is a shadow ban, how does it come about and how do you get rid of it?

Shadow banning - what is it?

First of all, the problem of the Shadow Bans seems to concern Business Profile. Since January, Instagram users have reported a high loss of engagement with their posts, which usually generated far more interactions.

According to a report on PetaPixel, the ban is related to the hashtag system: content from affected users no longer appears on the hashtag pages on Instagram for users who do not follow the account. The following example illustrates shadow banning:

“I noticed about a week ago that my engagement just cratered. I was getting about 1 / 3rd of the normal likes, and they were almost entirely from people following me already, ”one user told PetaPixel. The content of a banned account can only be seen by the account itself and by your own followers.

Instagram itself has also commented on the increasing number of inquiries from users, but - as was to be expected - in a very vague way:

General tips for building a community for a very specific problem that users have only been reporting about for a few months. Officially, there is talk of problems with the hashtag search, users should focus on creating creative content and their business goals. The real problem, however, which seems to affect more and more users, is more or less skilfully avoided in terms of PR. The comments of the less than happy users under the post also speak a clear language. If two thirds of the engagement is lost through this bug, how are professional Instagram users supposed to target a target group that is not already following them? Instagram reacts calmly and recommends that those affected report the problems that arise. Be that as it may, the fact that it is actually a bug that Instagram is supposedly working on is quite possible. But it can actually be a ban.

Hashtags on Instagram are the main mechanism behind discovering new content and accounts. While the problem persists, no one knows whether it is actually just a bug or whether it is the algorithm that sifts out highly active accounts as bots and restricts the range.

Since Instagram seems to be doing a lot to eradicate bots, it is quite conceivable that the algorithm in question is at an early stage of trial and error. In addition to the bots, real users who interact to a large extent on the platform are currently suffering.

How do I notice a shadow ban?

If you notice an extreme drop in engagement on your account, this strongly suggests that you may have fallen victim to a shadow ban. The decreased engagement is expressed as follows:

  • you get fewer likes per hour than usual
  • you generally get a lot fewer likes
  • only your own followers seem to interact with your posts
  • you generate fewer followers than usual

With a business profile, you should take a look at your insights and compare the engagement of older and newer posts.

A fairly safe method of verification seems to be to simply post something and tag it with medium-traffic hashtags. With one or better several other accounts that do not follow the original one, you can now check the hashtag pages to see whether the post appears there or not. If the latter is the case, you can assume that a shadow ban is on you.

Alternatively, you can use the Shadow Ban Tool to test whether you are affected. However, we can say little about the informative value of the tool. In some cases, the evaluation does not always seem to be entirely accurate, so that affected accounts are classified as not affected and vice versa. But it's definitely worth a try.

Why is there a shadow ban on my account?

A shadow ban can have several reasons. As already described, the algorithm seems to be at a very early stage in this regard and often suspects bots behind accounts that are not. The Knifty Knitster posted some theories on Instagram about what can lead to a ban:

  • You interact too much (Instagram has set a limit for every action. If you like too many pictures, comment too often or follow / unfollow too many users in a short period of time, this can have consequences. Usually the limits are loud Alex Tooby, a Canadian influencer and Instagram consultant, with 150 Likes, 60 Comments and 60 Follows / Unfollows a day).
  • You are using blocked hashtags.
  • You use automation apps.
  • You bought followers.
  • Your account was recently hacked.
  • Your account is reported frequently.

What should I do if I think I have fallen victim to a shadow ban?

The solution for this is basically already in the previous point:

  • Pause activities on the affected account. Users who shut down their account for a few days or weeks report that the ban has been lifted.
  • If you cannot or do not want to pause the account temporarily, post less. Once a day and a maximum of a few times a week should be enough.
  • Change your hashtags and do not use any of the forbidden tags on Instagram.
  • Do not insert your hashtags via copy & paste, but write them manually (remember that the problem officially has to do with the hashtags, which is why it might be important to forego any automation for the time being).
  • Reduce your interactions and do without the follow-unfollow strategy.
  • Reset your business profile to a personal one
  • Do without any automation. By the way: If you have several accounts and only run bots on one, Instagram can also use the Shadow Ban on all others if they share an IP address.
  • You can also contact Instagram. However, the experience of most users shows that this method is the least promising.

Far more complex problem

As boring as this may sound, in the end, Instagram is about building a real community and getting involved within the platform. The fact that the usage behavior of many users has recently led to blockings or a shadow ban is probably due to the fact that the approach of the algorithm ‘against bots is still in its infancy. In this way, unfortunately, many real accounts also fall victim to the ban. Too much interaction is therefore currently not recommended. The problem behind the shadow bans is a very complex one. Since Instagram does not comment on this either, users have to find their own ways to escape a ban and should rather exercise restraint on the platform at this point in time.

Studied social science with a penchant for online and marketing. Was editor and content manager at OnlineMarketing.de from 2014 to 2019.