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What Exactly is Shadowbanning, Why Does it Happen, & How to Avoid It 2023


What is the Instagram Shadowban?

Shadowbanning takes place when a social media platform blocks a user’s account in such a way that the user has no idea it’s happening.  


If you’ve been a victim of Instagram shadowbanning, chances are you didn’t know it took place. When a shadowban happens, your content will not appear on anyone’s feed unless they already follow you. 


When under a shadowban, your visibility on Instagram is reduced drastically. So as you can imagine, your engagement rate can and likely will plummet. Marketers, content creators, and influencers have been the biggest opposers of the shadowban. Decreased engagement and a loss of followers can very literally impact their business or their ability to produce results for a business client.

What Instagram Says (Or Doesn’t Say) About Shadowbanning

Instagram says that they are very much against shadowbanning. “Shadowbanning is not a thing. If someone follows you on Instagram, your photos and videos can show up in their feed if they keep using the feed. Being in Explore is not guaranteed for anyone. Sometimes you’ll get lucky, sometimes you won’t.” according to the higher-ups at Instagram.


Hashtags, which are commonly associated with shadowbanning. Typically, users who believe they’ve been shadowbanned by Instagram complain they cannot find their content under the hashtags they have tagged with their posts. According to Instagram, they actually show every post with a hashtag under that hashtag. They try to show people the ones that they might be the most interested in. This is to try and keep hashtag pages interesting but also to avoid spam and abuse.


Shadowban is a term that Instagram doesn’t use. They’ve never used it, they’ve always denied it was a thing. It doesn’t mean that the things included in the shadowban label are not happening.


Simply stated, just because Instagram doesn’t use the term shadowban, that doesn’t mean that the practice itself doesn’t take place. In fact, a few years ago, Instagram spoke specifically about some of the causes of “shadowbanning” without using the term. Further proof that shadowbanning does exist in some form even if Instagram doesn’t define it the way that others do.

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If you’ve been a victim of Instagram shadowbanning, chances are you didn’t know it took place. When a shadowban happens, your content will not appear on anyone’s feed unless they already follow you.

Why Does Shadowbanning Happen?

Shadowbanning has been around since the early days of social media and the blog era in 2006. In more recent times, however, shadowbanning has become a point of contention on Instagram as well as other social media platforms. However, the term first appeared in relation to Twitter, not Instagram. But why does it happen? Let’s dig into a few of the potential causes:


  • Your account gets reported for violations
  • You use broken or banned hashtags
  • You use bots or services that violate Instagram terms & conditions
  • You have large surges of activity which could indicate fraudulent activity
  • You are abusing Instagram’s daily or hourly limits 
  • You are using Instagram pods


Although it’s not widely publicized, there is a limit to how many actions you can take on Instagram per hour and/or day. This includes–but is not limited to–the number of posts you like, the number of comments you post, and the number of accounts you follow and unfollow.

How to Find Out If You’re Being Shadowbanned

So, how do I find out if I’m being shadowbanned by Instagram if I don’t even know it’s happening? Well, it’s tricky but there are ways to check and see if you’ve been a target of the Instagram shadowban. 


Use Another Account – one of the quickest ways to fact check the shadowban is by creating a new Instagram post and using a few unpopular hashtags in the caption and in the first comment. Then, ask a friend to use their account and unfollow yourself. Then, search for those hashtags and see if your post appears in the search results – either in Top Posts or Recent Posts. If your posts don’t show up in either search, you may be a target of Instagram shadowban.


Use an Instagram Shadowban Tester – there are several tools to test your account to see if it has been shadowbanned. One of the better options is Tribeer. Just key your account name into Tribeer’s shadowban analyzer and it will show you which hashtags are not showing your posts. 


Best Ways to Avoid the Instagram Shadowban


  • Avoid using bots or services that aren’t official Instagram partners
  • Don’t spam similar hashtags on all of your posts
  • Don’t use banned hashtags
  • Don’t frequently follow and unfollow numerous accounts
  • Don’t post illegal or inappropriate content
  • Don’t harass or spam other Instagram users
  • Refrain from buying followers


Whether or not Instagram accepts shadowbanning as a term or a practice, it’s clear that something is happening – and it’s been a consistent problem for many users. It can be frustrating and harmful to engagement, follower count, and more. So avoiding it altogether should be high on your priorities list. Protect your Instagram brand with the best practices above and make sure you’re never a victim of shadowbanning.

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