Instagram’s shadowban and what to do about it

When I saw the engagement on my Instagram take a nose dive, I started questioning myself. Until I found out about the shadowban! What to do about it >>

Instagrams shadowban: has it hit you yet? Find out how, what and why in this post!


For my blog, Instagram is key. It’s where I meet other foodies, reach potential readers and notify followers of new content that is online. For the past year, I’ve been working hard on improving my engagement and getting as many people to follow me as possible. That’s why I was super frustrated when all of a sudden my engagement took a nose dive: what was I doing wrong? Until I read about Instagram’s shadowban. What this does? It makes your photos disappear from all hashtags you use… Meaning only your followers will see your photos.

As far as I understood, Instagram is run with a certain algorithm that will try and filter out spammers and people who misuse the site. This is because there are many accounts posting e.g. porn or leading to spam websites, causing a giant security breach. “Want followers? Go to my bio!…” Also, there are many sites that will allow you to hack the system: think of sites or apps that allow you to plan your posts, or get new followers for free.

However, this algorithm doesn’t appear to be well managed. More and more genuine accounts on Instagram are being flagged as spam accounts or getting hit by a shadowban.

What will activate this shadowban?

At first, I figured there was no way I could be influenced by this shadowban. Surely I didn’t use any of the flagged or blocked hashtags? Most of them are porn related! You can check the list of forbidden hashtags here. However, I quickly learned that some very normal words are banned as well. #happythanksgiving? Doesn’t exist any more. #eggplant? Don’t even bother putting that hashtag in your post: it’s going to get you flagged. Even #valentinesday and #dutchgirl are banned… 

However, I checked some of my posts that were banned and there were no forbidden hashtags there. Something I noticed: putting your hashtags in the comment section instead of your photo’s description will also get you flagged. Whut? Even using the same hashtag “too often” will do the trick: this is how my personal hashtag #stayaliveandcooking ALSO raised a red flag with Instagram’s algorithm!

As mentioned before: using software, sites or apps that hacks the system will also cause the algorithm to ‘notice’ your account. This includes getting ‘bot’ likes or followers, scheduling your posts or even buying followers.

Another thing that will get your posts this shadowban: being too active on Instagram. This means going higher than 150 likes, 60 comments and 60 follows/unfollows per hour.

How to find out if your post is shadowbanned

So, there’s this trick going around saying you need a friend to unfollow you and then search your photo in one of the hashtags you’re using. Not there? Shadowban! However, there’s a much easier way: use this website.

Pay attention! This site checks your photos one at a time. This means that for the best effect, you need to check a couple of photos. I for example had a couple that had this shadowban, but others were safe. This might help you find out what got your photos flagged in the first place: it’s how I noticed the posts with hashtags in the comments got banned, while the ones with hashtags in the post itself didn’t.

What to do now?

First of all: stop what you’re currently doing. As far as ‘solutions’ go, the only thing that seems to be working is completely leaving Instagram alone for 48 hours. Whaaat? This should reset the system, after which you can get a clean start. Once you get this clean start, keep these things in mind:

  • Put your hashtags in the photo description, not the comment section

Apparently, this flags the system because people have misused the comment section to get 60 hashtags, instead of the allowed 30.

  • Don’t use automated apps or sites to schedule posts or get free followers

So: get real! Don’t use anything that isn’t genuine, or that asks you to log into Instagram in the first place.

  • Change your hashtags regularly: try not to use the same too often

Also, keep checking if none of the tags you’re using are broken, flagged or banned. You can do so by clicking on them, or by staying up to date with the lists of banned tags online.

  • Limit your comments, likes follows and unfollows per hour

In short: don’t behave like a bot. Don’t go on a spree liking every photo you see, and leave genuine comments. So no smiley as sole character, either!

  • Don’t use groups or hacks to get more likes

This one is not confirmed, but I noticed my engagement actually going down once I started using a groupchat on Instagram. (You post your photo in this groupchat and everyone leaves a like/comment) Apart from the likes and comments from the people in this group, my real comments and likes went down by a lot. I know I’m not using those again!

One final tip I’ve heard, and used myself: switch back to a personal instagram account. I started using a business account, because I liked the stats and stuff… But this is said to get your engagement down as well. Doesn’t have anything to do with the shadowban, but I figured I’d share it anyway 😉

Let me know

Do you have any more tips, tricks or experienced the same thing on Instagram? Leave a comment down below! I really hope this helped you guys, as I know first-hand how super frustrating it is… We work so hard!

Anyway, hope to see you again soon and thanks for visiting!

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4 thoughts on “Instagram’s shadowban and what to do about it

  1. Goede tips! Heb ook gelijk een aantal foto’s gecheckt, lijkt vooralsnog allemaal in orde. Gebruik ook geen apps of dergelijke om automatisch te reageren of te plaatsen. Had de laatste tijd wel al vaker uitnodigingen gekregen voor instapods/groepen, maar was er niet op ingegaan. Dat laat ik dan nu ook zeker achterwege.
    Hashtags heb ik altijd bij de foto zelf geplaatst, nu blijkt dus dat dat maar goed ook is. Er zijn er we heel veel, ook met hele grote groepen volgers, die de hashtags in de comments zetten. Vreemd dat zoiets dan niet algemeen bekend is.
    Anyway, jouw ellende heeft ons in ieder geval weer veel geleerd. Dank je voor het delen!
    Nicole recently posted…Soft Pretzel BitesMy Profile

    1. Wat fijn dat het bij jou allemaal in orde is! De enige app die ik gebruikte was om te kijken wie me gevolgd en ontvolgd had, maar dat heb ik nu ook maar verwijdert. Ik zat inderdaad in 2 van die instagram groepen, maar ook daar had ik geen profijt van… Volgens mij dus juist het omgekeerde! Ik denk ook dat het pech hebben is helaas, maar ik probeer er nu inderdaad zoveel mogelijk op te letten. Doe je ergens zoveel moeite voor en dan zie je dat helemaal niet terug. Stom!

      Bedankt voor je leuke reactie! Fijn om te weten dat het goed gelezen is.

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