The Instagram Shadowban and why you’re most likely not affected

Instagram Shadowban

If you’re into Instagram you already know about the Shadowban that everyone is afraid of at the moment. Everyone thinks they’re affected of the ban and panic.
Sure, I first did as well!! But most likely your account is affected from limited exposure – read more to find out what this means!

Backside info

I had a huge drop on engagement at the beginning of this March right after I installed the latest Instagram update. So the drop for me was basically over night. Beside the update I haven’t changed anything in my behavior concerning Instagram. I usually post one pic per day, high quality content, about the same time, hashtags are slightly different in each post and so on. The last six months I mostly got 300-500 likes in the first hour and in total 1k likes or more on most pics. After the update I struggle to get 100 likes in the first hour after posting.

What does Shadowban mean?

Okay, now back to the Shadowban. A Shadowban basically means that only your followers and you are able to see your pic appearing in the hashtag (so it’s hidden for users that aren’t following you, means no-one can find your account when browsing hashtags) but a real Shadowban goes even deeper – only you and your followers are seeing comments you write or direct messages. So the ban means that your account is like invisible for new followers. On Twitter and Facebook it’s happening already way longer than on Insta.

The only way to find out if your post is banned!

The thing is a lot of users panic and think that they’re banned when they’re actually not. The only way to check if you’re really shadow banned is to find 3-5 users that are not following you and then they have to check right after you’re posting if they are able to find your photo in a hashtag you’ve used. If only one of them is able to see it -> you are not shadow banned!
A real Shadowban happens to accounts that do things that are against the terms of IG – like playing follow/unfollow on a high level, act like bots, posting spam comments, reaching constantly the levels of likes per hour, using banned hashtags and so on.

Be careful with any websites or apps!

About two weeks ago there even popped up a website that tests if your post is shadow banned! Sadly it’s not legit at all. It simply says that when all hashtags were posted in the caption of your post it is safe and all hashtags that were used in comments are listed as banned. I tested it (usually I post most of my hashtags in the first comment and only a few in the caption – when I posted all of them in the caption it rated my post as safe when it clearly had the same low engagement as the ones with hashtags in the comments that the web site listed as banned). I talked to a lot of users who’ve tried it as well and it was the same for them. A few people assume that the web site is only collecting data or something like that but clearly it it not able to tell you if your post is banned or not.

Instagram Shadowban

But what is going on if I’m not shadow banned?

As I said before the only way to find out is to double check with other users with the method I suggested above. So I checked with some users that have never followed my account and some of them were able to see my pic in the hashtags they’ve checked and some NOT! That brings us to what is happening now on Instagram as well -> LIMITED EXPOSURE.
It means that your posts are not fully showing to all users out there. Instagram confirmed via Facebook on the Instagram Business page (the post if gone now) that there are hashtag bugs at the moment and that they don’t have a solution for it now. If you ask me, it’s something different.

Instagram Shadowbanvia the blogpost from (for link, scroll down)

As I started blogging at the end of January this year I switched my Instagram account to business to get the statistics – worst thing I’ve done (sadly I haven’t done any research before doing it – the IG algorithm for example is way harder on business accounts than personal ones). I wish I’ve never done it and I switched back to personal when I was testing what could help to get my usual engagement back (later more to that topic).
So my personal two cents to this topic is that Instagram made changes to the algorithm (as on Facebook the changes never happen to all users at once but slowly to everyone) again that effects the exposure of our accounts. Like on Facebook they want the users (and especially the business users) to pay for ads! Logical move when your exposure isn’t performing that good as it was before -> buy an ad to get it back up again. The same happened to Facebook business pages about two years ago.

I talked to a lot of users about this topic, it’s not appearing only for users that have a business account and it’s not only happening to big accounts – if you ask me, it’s pretty random which users are affected and which not.  Since I’ve started my research more and more users seem to experience this issue and in the groups I’m part of on Facebook and Telegram now every day several users post that they’re affected and how to get it lifted.

So what to do about that?

If you have a drop in engagement most likely you’re not shadow banned, it’s probably Instagram that is limiting your reach. The best way to fight this is to engage with real followers! The better your post is performing in the first hour (or even in the first 10 minutes after posting – people are not sure about this, nobody knows how the IG algorithm is working and it is affected by a lot of different things) the better Instagram rates your post.

I spent the last two months making research about this topic online, in different Instagram groups on Facebook, in Telegram communities and so on. I tried a lot of different things that worked out for other users to get their engagement up again after they had a huge drop (mostly 50%) – till now, nothing really made a big difference for me. Right now I’m testing if what Alex Tooby suggested – staying offline for 48hrs. Some users said their engagement went back to normal after that. Let’s see how it goes.

Find useful info here:

This are two blog posts from people who are really into this topic and where you’re able to find some good things you can try, no matter if your account is shadow banned or just your exposure is limited.

from Insta Guru Alex Tooby

from the guys on

In general I will try to work on my engagement rate and to get more real followers that are active on my account – I have my account since 2010 and because of that there are for sure some inactive users.
That’s also the reasons why you can never tell only by followers vs likes per post ratio if someone bought followers. I know so many old accounts with over 200k that were suggested users once by Instagram that now struggle with this. It looks suspicious when a big account only has a small amount of likes per post but not in every case it’s because they’ve bought followers.
Fact is, that things like that (big amount of followers but low engagement) affect how your post are performing.

As I’m just in the middle of my 48hrs totally offline time from Insta I realized how much I use it to get inspo, catch up with my followers, engage with new people, share some random stuff about my day in Stories, look at pretty pictures – it’s for sure my favorite social media platform and I used it since the beginning. I know everything changes at some point but I really hope Instagram will not ruin the fun only because of ads.

Have you experienced anything like that? What do you think about this topic? And if you have any tips I haven’t mentioned yet, pls feel free to share <3


1 Comment

  1. Feyi
    December 1, 2017 / 9:23 am

    Thank you so much for this. I’m experiencing similar issues, that is, not banned but poor engagement because of a sparingly used large account (over 10k) , which I decided to start being active on. Unfortunately, my old followers from 2014 and either inactive or uninterested in this new direction I am trying to take the page to (change in content type and user name), and so there is very little engagement (as little as 5 likes per new post). I am considering starting a new page as I am worried that its all downhill from here.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

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