What is the Instagram shadowban all about?

If you don’t live under a rock somewhere you’re probably familiar with the term shadowban right now, its all over our Twitter timelines and its sparked a bit of mystery and confusion within the blogging community. What is the shadowban? How do I know if I’m shadowbanned? How can I stop being shadow banned? All reasonable questions, yet no one really knows the answers. Instagram haven’t really spoken about the shadowban except for acknowledging that there is a problem with their hashtags at the moment, they went on to say that they do not have the resources to fix this ongoing issue… really Instagram?! Its as though the shadowban seizes to exist yet we are all aware it does and we’re desperate to get to the bottom of it! It seems Instagram changing the algorithm just wasn’t enough and its becoming increasingly harder to grow a following at all – Fuck! If you have noticed a huge drop in engagement recently its probably all down to the shadowban so heres everything I know about it –

What is the Shadowban?

This is the big question everyone really wants answers to. The Instagram shadowban basically bans your photo so it becomes unfindable in amongst all the hashtag feeds meaning people who don’t already follow your account won’t be able to find you or see the photo you’ve uploaded. This is why you’ve notice a lower engagement than usual.

Why have I been shadowbanned?

Well after tons of research trying to get to the bottom of it I’ve only managed to find a few reasons why your account could potentially be shadowbanned.

If you use the same hashtags over and over again this could cause a trigger as its seen as being a bit spammy but this is unconfirmed, no one currently knows why using the same hashtag combinations could cause you to be shadowbanned but it does, so be sure to change it up. This one bugs me, say I’m uploading a makeup related post and I want to tag #makeup I’m now unable to use that hashtag since I use it quite frequently and theres really no telling when its okay to revisit said hashtag!

Using bots and buying followers is another reason you’ll be shadowbanned and quite rightly so!! If you’re buying a following thats not real and you’re not putting the work in like the rest of us you don’t deserve to be found via hashtags #sorrynotsorry! I’ve been using Instagram for my blog for just over a year and I’ve only just reached over 1K followers, its the same story for many of us so its nice to know that Instagram are taking users that use bots seriously! Apparently Instagram can’t really get it wrong with being able to tell who uses bots and who doesn’t since bots rely on changing IP addresses. Your account could be flagged if your destination and IP address is constantly changing in really short spaces of time.

 Using broken and banned hashtags is also a reason you could be shadowbanned. I spoke briefly about this one in my post about growing your Instagram following. Basically by using hashtags that are broken or banned it will disable your upload from being found in any of the other hashtag feeds so checking each hashtag is pretty vital if you want to be discovered!

Masses of activity have also been said to flag your account. If you’re going on Instagram and you decide to follow or unfollow tons of accounts, then go on a liking and commenting spree your account will most likely be flagged for suspicious activity. You should try to space any activity out throughout the day so that this doesn’t happen to you. Although who really knows what the daily limit is?!

How can I stop my account being targeted by the shadowban?

Unfortunately there really isn’t a correct answer to this. Some people have noticed a difference when they’ve stopped using Instagram for a few days, they return and it seems to have sorted itself out! Although saying that, if you do continue using Instagram in the same way as you were before, the shadowban will be sure to target you again. Remember to change up hashtags and always check the ones you are using manually, this will take time but in order to grow your following and be discovered its something you’ll have to do.

Loads of my uploads have been banned recently so sadly I’m pretty sure my account has fallen into the shadowban pit. If you’re not sure if your account has been shadowbanned you can use this site to check if your latest upload has been banned from all searches.

Lastly, good luck! Instagram is a hard platform to grow, I just hope us young bucks who were late to the Instagram pool will be able to grow successfully and stop being discouraged!



  1. Rosie April 26, 2017 / 11:36 am

    Shadow banning sucks! Amazing that you’re helping other bloggers out on how to stay real
    And see and grow your influence on insta!

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 26, 2017 / 11:43 am

      Thank you Rosie!! Everyone is just confused by it I thought I’d do some research and help everyone understand even with the very little info we have on it!

  2. Lisa prince April 26, 2017 / 11:57 am

    see i have mine private so i dont want to use it for engaging as much as some but i can se ethis been a pain in the royal butt

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 26, 2017 / 12:13 pm

      Yeah so for those who use it personally and on’t really use Instagram for a business or blog etc its totally okay but growth wise its been pretty pants atm!

  3. Melanie April 26, 2017 / 1:24 pm

    I really need to look at insta, just do not seem to find the time, but useful article here to start, as to where not to go wrong and may get me motivated to do it lol 🙂 x

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 26, 2017 / 4:49 pm

      Hope it helps l!

  4. Gareth Torrance April 26, 2017 / 1:32 pm

    This whole shadowban thing is actually pretty confusing.. It’s almost along the lines of Google’s algorithm updates, as the exact details behind it all are still shrouded in some mystery. But thanks for clarifying much of it!

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 26, 2017 / 4:50 pm

      I know right its all very mysterious and weird hoping this has helped clarify some of what we didn’t know!

  5. Elodie April 26, 2017 / 3:54 pm

    I only just heard about this and I was so confused! Thanks for making it a bit more clear for us! x

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 26, 2017 / 4:51 pm

      Awwh really glad to have heard! It sucks!

  6. Lola April 26, 2017 / 5:50 pm

    Such a great post and really helps me understand why my pics have dropped 40 odd likes! I just find this game of cat and mouse so frustrating and as an app developed to shared why it should shun users that are not as big as others. BLAH! X
    Lola Mia

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 26, 2017 / 8:02 pm

      Exactly what I’d like to know!! I’m glad you found this helpful and hope you can up your engagement again!

  7. Ali Rost April 26, 2017 / 7:48 pm

    Thank-you for your post! I’d vaguely heard of the shadowban .. but hadn’t taken the time to research what in the heck it was. On one hand I’m cheering because they’re trying to rid the space of bots (etc) .. but at the same time the good guys can innocently get snared too. Also thanks for posting the link so we can check our accounts and posts out for ourselves

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 26, 2017 / 8:05 pm

      Yes thats exactly how I feel about it too Ali!! Its tough isn’t it but so glad you found this helpful!

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 26, 2017 / 8:05 pm

      It’s pretty terrible for us isn’t it!?

  8. Rhian Westbury April 27, 2017 / 9:42 am

    I’ve heard so much about the shadow bans recently and it absolutely sucks especially when people don’t know about it x

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 27, 2017 / 11:01 am

      It really does it was such a mystery and well really it still sort of is!!

  9. hannah April 27, 2017 / 10:15 am

    I love Instagram. I really hate those comments i get from people who keep telling me i have to click on this to get 1000s of followers, i find it really annoying

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 27, 2017 / 11:03 am

      Hahaha yes me too!! Or ‘follow me to gain more followers’ tired of it!

  10. Stephanie Merry April 27, 2017 / 10:33 am

    It seems everyone is talking about shadowbanning now and it seriously sucks! x

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 27, 2017 / 11:04 am

      It really does and its a big shame that its happening although great to distinguish whos using bots!

  11. Ashleigh April 27, 2017 / 12:37 pm

    Heard so much about this lately! I am not sure if it’s affected me as my engagement hasn’t dropped yet!

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 27, 2017 / 2:58 pm

      Well its promising to hear its not happening to everyone atm!

  12. Ali Hemsley April 27, 2017 / 2:07 pm

    Brilliant post! Damn Instagram messing with our heads and our engagement!

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 27, 2017 / 2:58 pm

      Right?! Glad you enjoyed the post!

  13. Ana De- Jesus April 27, 2017 / 6:55 pm

    I have been on Instagram for about a year and a half now and I agree it is so hard to grow your following. I just hit 5 K and it felt like forever to get to that point but I had no idea about this shadow ban concept! I just checked my latest post and apparently me using these hashtags Your post did not appear on any of these pages: #lotd, #tagsforlikes, #igdaily, #igers, #fashionblogger, #fblogger, #fbloggersuk, #instagood, #instastyle, #followme, #fblchat, #streetstyle, #centsofstyle, #streetart, #graffiti, #likeforlike, #outfitoftheday, #ootd, #streetartistry are banned. I have no idea why though! x

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 27, 2017 / 7:59 pm

      I uploaded today and luckily I’m being found in hastags again! I refrained from posting for a couple of days and chaned my hashtag combos!

  14. MELANIE EDJOURIAN April 27, 2017 / 6:56 pm

    That doesn’t sound very good at all I was looking into opening an instagram account but after reading that I’m not sure if I would bother. Thanks for the info.

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 27, 2017 / 8:00 pm

      Yeah its a big shame its so difficult now!!

  15. Rachel @ The Daisy Pages April 27, 2017 / 7:45 pm

    This is a really helpful article, thanks for sharing. I used the link checker and my account is safe….I hope that yours gets sorted out soon.

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 27, 2017 / 8:00 pm

      Oh great!!! Thank you I’m now being found again!

  16. Jessica & James April 27, 2017 / 8:31 pm

    Omg this probably explains why we’ve had less activity recently, well yeah we mostly use the same old foodie hashtags but damn, that sucks!

    Might have to change it up or do as you suggested and stay off it for a bit! Thanks for sharing!

    Jessica & James | foodandbaker.co.uk

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 28, 2017 / 10:19 am

      No worries!! Yes I stayed off for a couple days and just changes my hashtag combs seems to have worked!

  17. Joanna April 28, 2017 / 9:05 am

    Regarding this shadowban, I have also noticed that where you add the hashtags makes a huge difference. I used to add them in the first comment but when I switched to adding them into the post directly, the engagement was much higher.

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 28, 2017 / 10:20 am

      I did this yesterday actually and also noticed a difference!!

  18. The London Mum April 28, 2017 / 3:06 pm

    Great explanation, I’d heard of the term but have yet to come across it myself which is lucky because like you I tend to use similar hashtags- my content is typically similar. It’s a pain but I guess I’ll have to search new hash tags.

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 28, 2017 / 8:13 pm

      Its been making a difference for myself so its definitely a helpful tip!

  19. Natasha Mairs April 28, 2017 / 8:05 pm

    I must be living under a rock as I have never heard of the shadowban. I have heard about using the same hashtags over and over, but what is you shared photos of just one thing, like books?

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 28, 2017 / 8:14 pm

      Exactly!? I’ve no clue it seems its all becoming a little too tricky!

  20. melissa major April 28, 2017 / 11:00 pm

    very good explanation on this, I usually just change hashtags every now and again

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 29, 2017 / 8:28 pm

      Yes this seems to be doing the trick!

  21. Annie B April 29, 2017 / 11:45 am

    You are a star! I needed to read this as hadn’t a clue what was happening! Noted and bookmarked

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 29, 2017 / 8:29 pm

      Yay so pleased you found it helpful!

  22. danasia guyton April 29, 2017 / 7:29 pm

    This shadowban thing is so annoying! I dealt with it a few times about a month ago, but I’ve since figured out what hashtags were causing it to happen.

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 29, 2017 / 8:29 pm

      Thats awesome!! Glad you got to the bottom of it!

  23. Amelia Larsen April 29, 2017 / 7:35 pm

    I’ve seen the term shadow banning being thrown round a lot on twitter in the past week so it’s nice to read a post that’s actually cleared it up for me!

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 29, 2017 / 8:30 pm

      Well I’m really glad its helped! 🙂

  24. Louise April 29, 2017 / 11:24 pm

    I didn’t know about this shadow ban but now you have said I am going to make sure I change my hashtags around and if it sorts the the bought followers then good because I want to keep it real 😊

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 30, 2017 / 12:57 pm

      yes girl!! 😀

  25. Tanya April 30, 2017 / 10:46 am

    Such a helpful post! The shadowban had me completely baffled so it’s nice to find out a bit more information. I have to say with all the changes and struggles of Instagram lately I’m starting to fall out of love with it which is a real shame

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk April 30, 2017 / 12:57 pm

      Oh you are not alone!! I feel exactly the same!

  26. Tanya Brannan April 30, 2017 / 9:22 pm

    Thank you so much for explaining this as I didn’t understand what it was all about! Now off to see if I have been banned! Xx

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk May 1, 2017 / 10:33 am

      Great really pleased that I could help!

  27. Janet Yarwood April 30, 2017 / 10:12 pm

    I keep hearing about this shadow ban although I haven’t noticed much difference in my instagram. It’s a bit all over the place though so maybe the big mix in hashtags between pictres has kept me safe

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk May 1, 2017 / 10:34 am

      Sounds like you’re doing okay atm!

  28. Dannii May 1, 2017 / 6:47 pm

    This has happened to so many people I know and it sucks. I really wish that Instagram would just leave things as they were, when it was fun.

    • francescaferrarinelson@yahoo.co.uk May 1, 2017 / 7:21 pm

      I know right! It seems more and more people are falling out of love with Instagram and its a real shame! Luckily though I’m starting to love it again after applying these tips!

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