Social Media Marketing

4 Keys to Avoiding an Instagram Shadowban

Are you experiencing significantly less engagement?  Do your posts not seem to be getting the same exposure they did before?  Are they reaching anyone at all?

If these are things you’re observing with your Instagram account, there’s a good chance you’ve been shadowbanned.  Normally you will receive a notification if your Instagram account has been reported or banned. A shadowban is when your account is partially blocked, without receiving any notifications and your posts stop appearing in hashtag searches as well as the Instagram Explore Page.

Because Instagram has not released any official statements regarding shadowbanning accounts or what their conditions for banning accounts are, it’s hard to say exactly what triggers a shadowban.  What is most important though is that this article will point out what we DO know Instagram allows and what it does not.

From our research and what others have reported, the following are things that seem directly linked to an Instagram shadowban.  Here are the 4 keys we have determined will keep you in the safe zone.


1. Don’t use applications or websites that automate your Instagram


Using bots (fake accounts) or automated apps and websites can get your account blocked or banned.



  • Bots and automated tools throw off your real behavior on Instagram.
  • Instagram does not approve these tools or applications.
  • Instagram can very easily see if you are using (or have used in the past) an automated service.


Instagram has recently updated their algorithms and clearly states in its Developer’s Policy (points 18 to 23) that no app or website should automatically like, comment, follow or post on your behalf.  Instagram recognizes patterns in the way you use the app. If your behavior on Instagram looks irregular or suspicious, like that of a bot, your account is at stake.

Services like Social Sensei are excluded from this category because what we do is not automate your account but rather work with you to create a strategy and posting schedule that optimizes your time with assistance from our team of experts and growth specialists.


What can you do?

  • Stay away from automated apps, sites, or services.
  • Engage in true, organic, interaction with other Instagram users.  This not only shows you are a real person but also creates strong, trusting relationships with your followers.
  • If you are using a scheduling app or service, make sure you receive a notification when it is time to post.  Your posts should not be made automatically for you.


2. Know how to identify a website or app that could get you shadowbanned


Continuing from the first point, if you’re using an app or service that has not been approved by Instagram it could result in your account being shadowbanned or blocked temporarily.

As we also mentioned however, not all apps and services created to help navigate Instagram are bad.  In fact, some are great and can really make a difference in your social marketing game.


Here are three ways you can spot an unapproved app or website:

  • Check the login screen: On any app you open or download, you should see an Instagram login screen like the one below.  Followed by an authorization screen to integrate the app with your Instagram account.
  • Check the URL: If you are using a tool or service through a website, when you are asked to login make sure the URL contains “”.  This means you should be redirected to the Instagram website in order to log into your account before using the tool.
  • You should be the one in control: If you decide to start using an Instagram scheduling tool or management service and ever see the words “no phone required” or “automatic posting”, steer clear of it.  If the tool or service does not require you to physically like, comment, or follow it is breaching Instagram’s policy.


Giving an app or website access to your Instagram username and password is a serious security risk.  If you’re using any websites or apps like this currently, change your Instagram password as soon as possible.


3. Keep your hashtag knowledge up to date


There are two things you need to know about hashtags as they relate to an Instagram shadowban.

  • Your hashtags will not work anymore because Instagram may have detected something suspicious with your account, even if you’re not using bots or automated apps.
  • Your hashtags will not work because some of the hashtags you’ve used recently or in the past have either been blocked or banned by Instagram.


For whatever reason, some innocent hashtags become overrun with inappropriate content, nudity, or offensive images.  When this happens Instagram either significantly limits the usage of the hashtag or bans it completely. This then unfortunately creates a problem when you use any of these hashtags on your posts.

Some innocent hashtags to avoid include, #desk, #books, #popular, #newyears, #saltwater.  Check out this full list of banned hashtags The Data Pack has put together.


What can you do?

  • Research hashtags before you use them to make sure they’re not inappropriate or already blocked (they will not show in recent hashtag search results if they have been blocked).
  • Keep your hashtag clouds fresh.  Don’t use the same group of hashtags over and over again on all your posts (Instagram may flag the posts as spam).
  • Stay away from using too many overly popular hashtags (it’s easy for your posts to get buried quickly and doing so also looks spammy).


4. Stay spam free


Even if you’re not using unapproved tools or hashtags there is still a small risk of being shadowbanned.

Although nobody is absolutely sure what all specifically flags an account to be banned, here are a few more tips we have gathered from other’s experiences.


What can you do?

  • Avoid editing captions after you’ve made a post.
  • Don’t go on sprees of likes, comments, and follows or you will trigger Instagram’s algorithm (this behavior looks like that of an automated application or bot).  A best practice is to avoid going over 200 likes, 60 comments and 60 follows/unfollows per hour.
  • Include your hashtags in the post caption, not in the comments anymore.
  • Don’t post too many posts per day (3 or less is best)
  • If you receive an email from “Instagram” to reset your password, be cautious.  If you have NOT submitted a password request someone may be trying to hack your account.  If this happen ignore the email or report it to Instagram immediately.


Have you been shadowbanned?


If you feel that you’ve been the victim of an Instagram shadowban, what happened to your account? and for what reason do you feel they might have banned you?  Has the ban been lifted? and if so, how did you go about getting it lifted?

We invite you to share your experience with our support team so we can help get you back on track, grow your following, and be of more assistance to others in the future who are having this issue.

You can reach our support team at: [email protected]


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