I Got Shadowbanned From Instagram (and How I Got Unbanned)

May 19, 2017

Update [May 22, 2017]: I posted a picture this morning and did the hashtag test with my secondary account and it looks like my shadowban has been lifted (for now). I did everything I mentioned below and after a Friday-Sunday hiatus, I seem to be visible again. Good luck to anyone out there that is currently shadowbanned!

A few days ago, I posted a picture on Instagram. After about 30 minutes, I got back on Instagram and noticed that my most recent picture only had 6 likes after about half an hour which was totally not the norm. I knew something was up and with all the Instagram "shadowban" talk going around, I wanted to see if maybe I had indeed been shadowbanned.

WHAT IS AN INSTAGRAM SHADOWBAN?

Long story short... when you are shadowbanned, all the hashtags you use for your picture are pretty much useless. Let's say you use the hashtag #bucketlist for your picture. When you are shadowbanned, anyone not following you will not see your picture when they search #bucketlist on Instagram. Your picture will still show up for that hashtag for anyone following you, but that doesn't help you grow your audience and improve your engagement.

HOW TO CHECK TO SEE IF YOU HAVE BEEN SHADOWBANNED

First, you will notice a drop in your engagement. This is a big deal for anyone, like myself, trying to grow their Instagram. To see if you have been shadowbanned, post a picture using a fairly unique hashtag so you don't have to scroll through a lot of pictures to find it. After I suspected that I had been shadowbanned, I posted a picture with the hashtag #classicbigdoors. From your own account, search for that hashtag... you should be able to see your picture.


The next step involves either making another Instagram account or asking a friend with Instagram for help. I have another account that I barely use. I mainly use it to post "non-photography" type pictures so I switched over to that account and searched #classicbigdoors. Nothing. My picture was nowhere to be found. After a mini freak out, I confirmed that I had been shadowbanned. If you switch over to another account or plan on asking a friend to check for you, make sure to tell them to unfollow you first. Like I mentioned earlier, your followers will still see your picture even if you have been shadowbaned.   


Another way you can check your shadowban status is by using a tester website. I have read mixed reviews about these websites. Some say they are accurate, while others have reported that they are not 100% reliable. You can try it for yourself and see. Here is a popular tester website: Instagram Shadowban Tester. In my opinion, the only way to truly know if you have been shadowbanned is by doing the hashtag test with a buddy or another account. 

WHY DID INSTAGRAM SHADOWBAN ME?

I would like to know the answer to this question as well! 

There are many reasons why Instagram are shadowbanning accounts and some of them are justifiable. I know they are trying to get rid of bots and spam. But in the process, they are punishing real legit accounts and it seems like a lot of people have been affected. 

Some reasons why you have been Instagram shadowbanned include:

You have been using an app, software, or website that violates Instagram's terms of service. This includes using bots to gain likes and followers or using any type of automated tool to post on your behalf. Plain and simple, stay away from these types of apps and websites and never buy followers and likes! 

You have been using the same hashtags over and over again or using broken hashtags. If you're like me, you have a bunch of hashtags saved in your Notes app. Make sure you are mixing these up so you don't look spammy. Broken hashtags are another no no, there are the obvious inappropriate hashtags that everyone should not be using but then there are innocent hashtags like #kansas that gets blocked cause some inappropriate pictures were being tagged with it. This is why we can't have nice things! 

You have been repeatedly reported by other users. If you just have an angry ex that keeps reporting you out of spike, don't worry, that won't get you banned. Instagram will check to see if you have been violating any of their terms first, but if you are doing something you're not supposed to and are getting reported then you will get shadowbanned or worse, kicked off Instagram. 

Your Instagram activity exceeds the limit. Out of all the reasons out there, I think maybe I am guilty of this one. If you didn't know, there is a limit on how many likes, comments and follows/unfollows you can do per hour. They do this to crack down on bots. Rumor has it, your limit depends on your account but the general rule is don't exceed 150-200 likes, 60 comments, and 60 follow/unfollow per hour. We were super busy over Mother's Day weekend so I wasn't on social media that much except to post a few pictures from the beach and brunch. After everything was said and done and I finally had some time to check Instagram, I sort of went on a liking frenzy. Maybe that is what triggered my shadowban? Hard to believe I liked 150 pictures in an hour, but who knows. 

HOW TO GET UNSHADOWBANNED       

I am still working on this one. I have read numerous shadowban success stories so getting unshadowbanned can happen. It seems like what worked for one person, did not work for another and vice versa so it all depends on your situation and your account. You might need to do one or all of these suggested options below, it just depends. I read where someone got unbanned in 4 days, where another person is going on 6 months! Hopefully I'm more like the former. 

Revoke access to any applications that might be violating Instagram's terms of service. You have to do this on your desktop or laptop. Sign into your Instagram account from your desktop or laptop and then go to Edit Profile - Authorized Applications. There you will see a list of all applications that have permission to access your Instagram account. While I have never used an app to gain likes or followers, I did see a lot of apps that I totally forgot about and haven't used in years. To be on the safe side, I revoked almost everything except for Activate by Bloglovin' and SnapWidget. 

   
Report the issue to Instagram. People make mistakes and the solution could be as easy as letting Instagram know that they made one by shadowbanning you. I have sent in numerous reports to Instagram since I found out I was hit with the shadowban. Millions of people use Instagram, so it doesn't hurt to keep sending reports until your "voice" is heard. From your app, go to Settings - Report a Problem - Something Isn't Working, and let them know that your hashtags are not working. If you are using any sort of bot or automated website to post, you must remove that before reporting the issue to Instagram or else you are still violating their terms and they will definitely not remove your shadowban.   


Lay low for a few days. Staying off Instagram for 2-3 days have worked for a lot of users, especially if you are guilty of over-liking or over-commenting. This will give Instagram time to reset your account and remove the shadowban, plus you don't look spammy when you're not doing anything. Downside is that a lot of people depend on getting on Instagram to grow or maintain their engagement so not being active for a few days will definitely hurt that... but still being shadowbanned doesn't help either!

Other options I have heard or ways to prevent shadowbanning are:

- Deleting all broken hashtags in your previous posts (or all hashtags if that is easier)
- Switching your account from a business account to a personal one
- Posting your hashtags in the caption and not in the comments 
- Stop editing your pictures after you post them (leave your typo alone) 
- Not maxing out on all 30 hashtags and manually typing them in

So I have reported the issue to Instagram (3 times already) and removed all 3rd party applications except for a couple of legit ones, so now it's time to lay low for a few days. This will be the hardest part. I'm going to sign off today and I won't get back on again until Monday. Hopefully this will work and I can officially be unshadowbanned! Wish me luck!


Have you been shadowbanned as well? Were you able to get unbanned? Let me know below!  

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