Why Has My Instagram Account Been Shadowbanned + How To Remove It

Has your Instagram account been shadowbanned?

A few days ago a member of my Facebook group contacted me, saying she had a suspicion her Instagram business account had been ‘shadowbanned’. Since I hadn’t heard of it, I promised her to look into it. I posted on Instagram and Twitter to ask if anyone else had been effected by a ‘ShadowBan’, and the results were shocking.

Lots of people have been affected!

  Pin this now, find it again later

Pin this now, find it again later


What is 'shadowbanning' or 'ShadowBan'?

If you haven’t heard about it, let me explain what shadowbanning means. 

(Instagram has not made an official statement yet, so this information is based on the knowledge I have at this time. If you have more information, or a different explanation, please leave a comment and I will look into updating my post)


Shadowbanning means the visibility of your Instagram account has been compromised (as far as I am aware shadowbanning only affects Instagram business account but I have had people reporting a shadowban on their personal accounts as well. If you have been affected with a normal user account as well, please leave a comment).

By compromised, I mean that your posts will only be shown to your followers, not to new people. Not only that, the hashtags you use won’t be found either.

A shadowbanned Instagram account basically skips your existence completely. Your posts are visible to yourself and your followers but not to anyone else.


A nightmare for any aspiring business owner

If people can’t find or discover your account, then your IG account can’t grow. You are basically screwed.


I have noticed a drop of engagement on my Instagram feed lately. Have I been shadowbanned?

Don’t panic, so have I. But I’m not banned. Having a dip in activity and engagement is normal and does not automatically mean that your account has been shadowbanned.


How can I test if my account has been shadowbanned?

All you need is one of your Instagram followers:

  1. Show your friend the image you would like to test

  2. Tell your friend which hashtag to look for. (TIP: Use a niche hashtag so that it’s easier to find your image, rather than a super popular one.)

  3. Unfollow a friend and ask your friend to unfollow you temporarily.

  4. Close and reopen the IG app, ask your friend to do the same

  5. Ask your friend to search for your hashtag to see if the image comes up in the search. If it comes up, WOOP WOOP! You are officially not shadowbanned. If it doesn't show up, sorry… you may have just unwillingly joined the shadowban club.


Or if you have more than one accounts with Instagram, use those to test your account.


1. Make sure you temporarily unfollow your accounts

2. Switch to your other Instagram account and look up some hashtags you used in your previous post. If they show up to you, then your account is most likely visible to new people and you are not shadowbanned. But if your post doesn't show up then you are shadowbanned, meaning your posts are invisible to new people.


My account has been shadowbanned - How can I fix it?

The good news is there is help, and a lot of people have been able to fix it and get their account back to normal. Below, I’ll show you what to do, based on what my affected followers did (the comment snippets are real snippets from my Instagram comment thread). You need to eliminate what could have caused it at source.

Update: Read how I got rid of my Instagram shadowban here.


Do it manually or don’t do it at all!

Don’t use any bots! Do it manually. Yes, it takes time to engage and write real comments, but Instagram is all about interaction with real people. (That’s what I love most about Instagram!) And if you need a bot to engage with people then you are missing the point in my eyes.

“So, I noticed I was shadowbanned by not receiving much engagement from those that weren't already following me. I checked it by using a personal account that doesn't follow my affected account to look up a pretty unused hashtag that I had used, and there was no photo to be seen!
I was shadow banned for 10 days. In that time, I decreased my posting activity. I liked less than 5 photos a day (leaving plenty of time between each like), I didn't follow or unfollow anyone in that time period. I used way less than 30 hashtags per post and i didn't tag anyone in a post either.”


Reply to comments by adding value

This will show IG that you are real and not a bot.

Don't just use the same emojis over and over. Read the person's post. Understand their point. Sympathise with them. Show emotions. Offer support. Don't just keep saying the same stuff like, ‘nice pic’ or ‘beautiful’. Because you can’t spark a conversation from generic comments. And Instagram is ALL about conversation and engagement.

Check your hashtags

In Instagram, hashtags are key. But with over 400 million active daily users it is impossible to keep track of each hashtag, and there are way too many nasty people out there that want to stick their booty up your face or trick you with ‘get rich quick schemes’. And when you use that hashtag you are basically letting Instagram know that you support it.

Some hashtags are seriously not what you would expect them to be. So check your hashtags, ALL 30 of them that you can use per post. I had some hashtags with naked asses jumping up in my face when I was not expecting it (sorry girls, but I report stuff like that straight away to keep our community safe).


Stick to niche vs popular hashtags

Keep from using super big hashtags, as it's impossible to monitor them. You might think you are using a good hashtag but then half of the users might use it for nudity or worse. You would never know. Best stick to more niche and relevant hashtags.

“I think I probably used all 30 hashtags without thinking that it could be wrong, and also not knowing what hashtags to use as well :( also I do give likes to people who are following and liking my posts - but how would normal people know that this activity can be banned?”


Stop interacting with strange people

Check out who is liking your stuff and commenting, and if it’s one of those dodgy get-rich-quick schemes than simply don’t interact with them.

I get a lot of sleazy entrepreneur-type guys liking and commenting on my posts, usually using the same comment. But they are not my target. My target are female entrepreneurs so I never interact with people who are not my target. I simply don't want to encourage them to keep interacting with my stuff.


Switching back your business account to a personal account

Personally, since my account has not been banned, I’m not sure I agree with this advice, but I have had people say it fixed their problem.

The advantage of a business account is that you get insights about how well your post is performing. But if like mine your account is only just starting, you might be able to live without the insights. Your call, but I’d be curious to hear your comments.

One thing to consider is that Instagram is looking for ways to make money. Shadowbanning business accounts might drive desperate small business owner to buy Instagram's ads to reach visibility.

Update: Read how I got rid of my Instagram shadowban here.


Leave your account alone for a couple of days.

I know, this might not be the greatest answer you are hoping to hear, but behind your mobile screen is this big massive monster of an app connected to giants of servers. Sometimes, resetting information takes time.


“I kept using a random, fairly unused hashtag on every post (I think i only posted 5 times in that 10 day period), and then checked the hashtag using my personal account to see if my photo popped up! Eventually it did, and I kept being very careful with my activity. I think that what triggers it is mostly spam-like activity. It's almost a very cruel slap on the wrist from IG (they could just block your account). I think it was because, when someone liked my photo, I would like 3 photos back in return. I think the speed of it was what flagged me.”


Contact the Instagram for Business Facebook page

Facebook and Instagram belong together and you will find proper support on the Instagram for Business Facebook page.

Although Instagram doesn't really provide information about what the heck is going on, they do seem to reply to each and every query. I myself have sent people there who have gotten a reply.

Each reply varies but here is some actual advice on how some of my followers have lifted their shadow ban and restored their account activity back to normal.

“I'm all back to normal! I got my information from reddit actually! I had never used the platform before, but it seemed to be the only place I could find any information. They call it "Shadowbanned" on an IG subreddit   - definitely give it a google. There was a lot of advice and I just followed all of it, so i couldn't even pinpoint what might have done the trick and put me back to normal. I did contact IG, through the app, email and fb. I honestly felt so ignored and honestly it seemed pointless.”


A bit of background about Instagram’s mission to make Instagram a more organic social media platform again.

The way people use Instagram has changed. What started out as an eye candy photo sharing app quickly turned into a competitive follower growing marathon. Many clever people spotted an opportunity to make a quick buck by helping people grow their accounts -  FAST and without any effort (if it sounds too good to be true that’s because it is). As with all good things in life, good things take time.

So I don't need to explain to you that buying followers or using bots is not the natural way Instagram envisioned to develop as a business. Because of Instagram, along came data analytics apps like Iconosquare, Tailwind, Buffer, Planoly.

These had access to data about followers and were able to produce detailed reports about who followed or unfollowed you, and why and when. But this data wasn’t just available to those apps, it was available to everyone using the apps. Eventually the bad guys got hold of it too, developed bots to mimic following and unfollowing and messed up Instagram for everyone.


The big bang

In December 2016 Instagram revoked access to all this data, and from that day on no data analytics app was able to see or use that information. Iconosquare had to remove an entire section of its feature (which was one of the coolest features) in order to eliminate the flood of bots popping up everywhere like daisies. Ever since, Instagram has been on a mission to restore the naturalness of its social media platform.

I believe shadowbanning may be affecting those who may have used follower growth services in the past that conflict with Instagram's etiquette.

This article is really not to shame anyone, and if you too have been banned, then just trace back what you did, 1, 2, 6 months ago and analyze why your Instagram account could have been shadowbanned.


Update: Read how I got rid of my Instagram shadowban here.


Why is Instagram shadowbanning business accounts?

There is a lot of speculation going on. The most popular one out there at the moment is that it is nothing more but a strategy for Instagram to make money. Limiting business account users (which is free by the way) in their ability to grow their accounts will get them to promote their posts like ads, which earns Instagram money.

But in my honest opinion, I believe shadowbanning is simply a delayed knock-on effect based on your former actions.


Useful links:

Sub Reddit

Instagram for Business Facebook group


If you want to see the full debate, check out my IG post

Instagram's shadowban and how to lift it


For more support join my Facebook group.


Update: Read how I got rid of my Instagram shadowban here.

There are no shortcuts. Building an audience takes time. Using a bot or acting spammy might get you shadowbanned so don’t let that happen.


Have you been affected? I’m keen to hear your story. Please share a comment below.