Are you shadow banned on Instagram? This is how to know!

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This I wanted to discuss something that has been causing quite a lot of frustration in the blogger community in the past weeks.

If you are a blogger yourself or very active on Instagram, chances are you have heard of this phenomenon already. I’m talking about the Instagram shadow ban. So, what is it and how can you find out if you have been shadow banned by Instagram?



Recent Changes In Instagram’s Algorithm – Are Hashtags Irrelevant?


I wrote about the changes in Instagram’s algorithm a few months back, where I described how bloggers have lost engagement on their pictures because Instagram limits the exposure of professional images (read: anything not taken on an iPhone).

The newest change to Instagram’s algorithm is that now, hashtags don’t work on these images either! What do I mean by this? Literally what I have just said. Hashtags may be irrelevant for professional quality images.

The phenomenon has been dubbed the “Instagram shadow ban” because Instagram has not come forward with it officially, and you won’t know you have been shadow banned unless you check your own profile through a different account.


What Is The Instagram Shadow Ban?


If you are serious about your Instagram and are using it for professional purposes, chances are you are using hashtags to increase your reach and audience. Every single “How to grow your Instagram” article on the web tells you that hashtags are important, and not just any hashtags, but specific and niche tags that take lots of time to research.

Except that they aren’t. With the new changes on Instagram, hashtags that are attached to images that are shot on a professional camera do not rank in the algorithm AT ALL according to some photographers.

The images cannot be found in the explore page by users who aren’t already following you. What do I mean? Check this article out.

Crazy huh? I know Instagram can do whatever it pleases with its own platform, but I can’t help but feel this is somehow unethical. Instagram has responded to the questions with an official statement here, however they don’t give any solution to the problem and are only referring to the issue as a bug with the algorithm.

I don’t believe it – my theory is that they are be doing it intentionally in the hopes of selling more ad space. Instagram’s solution to the shadow ban is that creators should focus on creating engaging, quality images, but how can quality be enough if your target audience can’t even find you?!

Hashtags used to be the “search engine” of Instagram, but it seems like creators have to come up with a new strategy to reach their desired audience.


How Can I Know If I’ve Been Instagram Shadow Banned?


If you have noticed a significantly lower engagement on your images in the past few weeks/month, chances are your account has the Instagram shadow ban. There are two methods for verifying your ban.

This website here is the quickest way to check if your images have been restricted, but reports say it might not be the most accurate method.

The best way to check is to create a second account, NOT follow your primary account and then go under the hashtags that you have recently used and try to see if you can spot your image. If you have been shadow banned, you can’t find your image under the tag!

The most accurate way is to repeat this with 3-5 acounts who don’t follow you.


What Can I Do To Remove The Instagram Shadow Ban?

1. Move Hashtags Into Captions


If you follow bloggers, you may have noticed that a few of them have moved from putting tags in the comments to putting them in the caption. Will this alleviate the ban? It’s your best bet. From personal experience, smaller, more niche tags work the best if you still want to rank in the algorithm.

Oh and, start using an iPhone for your images if you really want to get on Instagram’s good side. In Instagram’s eyes, Professional Images = Business Account = Limited Exposure.


2. Mix Up Your Hashtags


If you are constantly using a set of tags that you copy paste into your comments, try mixing them up. Check your tags to make sure none of them are broken or banned by Instagram. (If you click on a tag and see either a blank page or pictures flowing in a random order, don’t use the tag.)


3. Stop Using Bots, Engagement Pods and Third-Party Apps


Other’s have also reported that any kind of account automation may lead to a shadow ban, so it is best to keep your interactions organic on the platform. Instagram’s guidelines are stricktly opposed to automation, and by giving up bots your account may return to normal in 24-48 h.

Sadly, Instagram may also interpret any third party service as a ‘bot’. If you use any app to measure your Instagram analytics (other than Instagram itself), consider stopping this. This also applies for engagement pods like those found on Telegram.


4. Seize Activity


An Instagram shadow ban may also be caused by over activity on the platform. If you’ve followed a lot of people at the same time or gone on a liking spree of 300 images per hour, chances are that Instagram will take note. Try holding back activity for 24-48 h and see if your account returns to normal.


What’s Next For Instagram?


So, what is the future of Instagram? Do you think it will become the next Facebook, which is basically a dead platform in the eyes of millennials? It’s a scary possibility for those of us who use it as their primary platform for their blogs.

All I can say is that the age-old saying which stock investors use now becomes relevant in social media: diversify, diversify, diversify. The more platforms you use, the safer you are. Also, your blog is the only platform you truly own as well, so invest in that.

Although, if you rely heavily on traffic from Google’s search engine – be wary. You have no control over that either! E-mail subscribers are what you should be aiming for.


Read These Next

Read more on the subject here: coverage by Alex Tooby and Plann That

How To Get Paid on Instagram and Work With Brands That You Love

Instagram Loop Giveaways – Are They Worth It?

How To Grow Your Instagram


  1. Ok, so I’m safe for tonight hahaha. But it’s upsetting they are doing that! I do think it’s on purpose too. Do you think it affects if you are on business account? I read somewhere in can cause it too. Thanks for the article!

    xx, Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa, definitely! Business accounts have it even worse I think… I was using my Insta as a “business” for some time but I noticed my likes decreased so I switched back…. I’ve read that Instagram limits exposure on business accounts which is very sneaky!! But from their perspective it does make sense that they would try to encourage business accounts to invest in paid advertising. However I think they may be going down the same path as Facebook now, where it’s basically impossible to attain any exposure as a business unless you pay for it ?? x

  2. “which is basically a dead platform in the eyes of millennials” Wow, I think you are exaggerating a bit lol.

    And, funny thing is I used the site you’re talking about and it’s saying my latest instagram picture is “banned” well it’s one I was happy with the engagement. So I can’t have 600 likes with just my followers, that’s crazy…

    1. Hahah, I personally use Facebook only for blogging groups and messenger, and many other Mille ails don’t even use the former feature! As I said, you might try using a second account which has no interaction with your main account to see if your post is banned, that is more accurate! x

  3. I’m safe tonight lol. It sucks that IG is doing that though. I was going to start uploading pics from my camera, but IDK now.

    1. I still do! I hate using my phone for pictures so I have just accepted the fact that my engagement will be lower. Find which option works for you better, if you’ve used a phone you might just want to continue using that x

  4. Wondering why visibility was down so much! A big thanks.

  5. This was such an interesting post! I checked my page on the website you listed, and it said “this post is banned”. But then I used my partner’s phone to check the tags from that post. I was still featured on those tag pages, no problems. So either the shadow ban checker is wrong, oooor…?

    1. Does your partner follow you? That’s the key factor here! x

  6. Trond Topstad says:

    My account has been banned: ttspot
    For months it has been destroyed, absolutely no answers from IG.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that Trond! Instagram is ridiculous at customer service, I’ve never gotten a reply from them, whatever the issue!

  7. Johan Hägg says:

    Yes my account is “shadowbanned”. Only people already following me can see my hashtagged content. Really annoying and unethical I think. I’m an honest user, never used any type of bot or posted provoking content. My account is slowly dying.

    1. That’s such a a shame!! There’s apparently a new wave of shadowbanning going on at the moment, people are really upset on Twitter! Instagram has deleted some of their pics too? (More here: No one seems to be growing and even these tips aren’t working for everyone… ! I really wish Insta go at their sht together! x

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