Beware of the Instagram Shadowban - huzzah! digital
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The saga of Instagram’s new algorithm continues…The shadowban *insert Twilight Zone music here* is the unsavoury buzzword on the tip of every Instagrammers tongue. If you’re not sure what a shadowban is, it’s essentially your hashtags being pulled from the searches – making you undiscoverable. No, this is not an episode of Black Mirror. We are actually being visually silenced as a penalty for unwittingly breaking one of the new algorithm’s rules.

The Instagram shadowban is a mysterious creature. Nobody can be 100% sure that it’s even real since Instagram haven’t confirmed nor denied its existence. So why are we all so shook up by it? Because we’ve all, at one point or another, experienced an illogical drop in engagement and followers that doesn’t line up with anything we’ve done.

Shadowbanning isn’t a new concept, in fact Twitter was under fire for silencing political tweets not so long ago. It seems to be a tactic used by social media platforms to mitigate the risk of spammy or offensive content being seen by millions of people, so their system automatically reduces visibility of posts that tick either of those boxes. It seems that Instagram’s new algorithm is a little too trigger happy where penalties are dished out…

Again, it’s all very cloak and dagger with Instagram, where no official statements are being made about the shadowban or its triggers. With a lot of research, trial and error, the following offences could mean you’ve been lumped with reduced visibility:

1. Using bots

This should go without saying, any auto-posting software violates Instagrams terms of use and will get you penalised.

We get it, having to post scheduled content via push notifications to your device is laborious. Any tool that claims to be able to automate posts straight through to Instagram is doing so against their terms – so avoid them like the plague! Anything that rings their spam alarm bell will land you on the shadowban list. So whatever you do, don’t buy followers either.

2. Repeat hashtagging

We know, it’s completely ludicrous. If you’re a food blogger, and all your images are of food, why on earth wouldn’t you hashtag all your posts with #foodies? Unfortunately we’ve noticed a pattern where those who use the same hashtags are no longer showing up in searches after a month or so. In fact, Instagram had this to say on the matter:

Instagram for Business

Again, no mention of a shadowban but it sounds to us like this was a mistake on their part. For now, to protect your engagement, mix it up by using a new set of hashtags every so often.

3. Using banned hashtags

You obviously know not to use lewd hashtags, but did you know that completely innocuous hashtags also get banned? Thanks to idiots using irrelevant hashtags on their inappropriate content for the sake of getting more views, even something as innocent as #Kansas can fall victim to the banhammer.

Shadowban Tags

Unfortunately your beloved hashtags can fall victim to this at any time. This means you won’t show up in searches since Instagram won’t show more than the first page of a banned search term. To be on the safe side, search all your hashtags before posting to make sure they’ve not made the naughty list.

Check if you’ve been shadowbanned

Luckily, we can quite easily check if we’ve landed ourselves on the shadowban list using this nifty tool. There are claims that it’s not 100% accurate so it’s best to double check by using a different account to search one of the hashtags used to see if you show up.

Shadowban Analyzer

If you’ve fallen victim to a shadowban, the most important thing is not to freak out. All these changes to Instagram’s algorithm are catching us all off guard at the moment. Just dust yourself off, get wise to their new rules and get ‘gramming again. It’s the only way to get back in their good books.

AUTHOR: Heba El-Husseini

As the Digital Account Manager at huzzah! digital, Heba is a creative visionary with a flair for writing. She is a lover of storytelling and the impact it can have on brands. When she's not brushing up on her filmmaking skills, you can usually find her eyeing up the latest fashion trends.

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