Despite the scary name, a shadowban is more like a time out than exile. It’s easy to avoid a shadowban, just be nice and you have nothing to worry about.
Instagram shadowban has been making bloggers, influencers, and entrepreneurs lose their sleep at night for some time now. The shadowban became almost a tale of a mythical creature people tell each other — no one knows exactly how it looks or where to find it, but they continue sharing their stories and spread rumors.
So what is a shadowban?
As the name suggests, it is a ban from Instagram — however, not a complete one. It’s a ban from the vibrant Instagram community, not the app itself.
How do you know if your account has been shadowbanned? The easiest way to check if you’ve been affected is to see whether your posts appear under the hashtags you’re using. If they don’t, chances are you’ve been shadowbanned (unless you are using hashtags like #love and #instagood, which update content at a rate of 10,000 new posts per minute). Another way to check whether your account has been affected is to see whether other users can see your account.
Why do accounts get shadowbanned?
No one knows the exact reasoning; however, it is safe to say that you can “earn” a shadowban by not complying with Instagram Terms and Rules. Instagram is trying really hard to make their community safe, fun and authentic. The rise of all sorts of bots and spammers force Instagram to tighten their rules.
If you have been shadowbanned, most likely your behavior has caught attention of the algorithm and spam filters. Such behaviors include using apps that act on your behalf (so apps that automatically post, like other posts or follow other accounts), being frequently reported by other users, or being “too active” on the platform, such as creating a lot of activity in a short periods of time. For example, if you like all the posts you see mindlessly or follow everyone you can find, spam filters will be triggered and you may — or may not — receive a notification that says you’ve reached hourly limits for a specific action.
Sometimes, shadowban might be triggered by the use of notorious hashtags. You might have seen some hashtag feeds that display a message that reads “… the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.” This should be a huge red flag for you not to use those specific hashtags.
So, what do you do to avoid shadowban?
Obviously, shadowban negatively affects your account and your ability to leverage the platform. The most simple, yet most effective advice is to act like a human and not a bot. Engage with your community authentically. Like and comment on content you truly enjoy and follow only those accounts that you’re interested in following. First of all, if you engage to Instagram authentically, it’s pretty difficult to reach hourly limits as reading posts and commenting mindfully takes time. Plus, there won’t be a rhythm or pattern to your liking or commenting, so it won’t catch spam filters’ attention.
What do you do if you suspect you have been shadowbanned?
First of all, don’t panic. If you haven’t been completely banned from the platform, there is a very good chance you’ll be fine. Check all of the hashtags you’ve been using for the message mentioned above, especially the ones you use frequently.
Slow down your activity a notch. Post your content as you would normally do. Like, comment and follow minimally but steadily. Show Instagram that you are not a spammer or a bot. Most users that have been affected report that within a few days, algorithms seem to reset your account status. Continue to monitor the situation and see if your posts begin to appear in hashtag feeds again.
If your account has been affected in the past, I would strongly recommend to change the course of action and find ways to be an active part of the community without triggering the filters.
If you have been shadowbanned, there is a good chance you know exactly why. So, if you don’t want to be banned completely, don’t continue to do something that is obviously not working to your advantage.
Whether shadowban is as widespread as the rumors about it are, remember to be a valuable part of the community and you won’t have to be worried about a thing. Also, keep in mind that reach and engagement are dropping because of Instagram’s business strategy, so just because your engagement is down, doesn’t mean you’ve been shadowbanned.
This article was originally published on Entrepreneur.