Do you have a sneaking suspicion that you’re “shadowbanned” on Instagram? Not exactly sure what shadowbanning is? Is it a myth? You aren’t alone in this fight.

It can be tough distinguishing a shadowban from your profile simply losing engagement and growth. Instagram’s algorithm is always changing – usually when some form of exploit is found that let’s others game the system – and it’s important to realize that shadowbanning rarely happens. People that are for sure shadowbanned must have been really pushing the envelope.

It isn’t a myth and it can be scary, especially if your career hinges on, you know, being social. The fear has created “shadowban testers,” which are predatory “fixes” for shadowbanned Instagram users. They ask for money, promising it’ll fix your problem. All you get out of it is a lighter wallet. Oh, and you’re still shadowbanned. Don’t bother with them. They are only there to scare you.

First, let’s get the easiest question out of the way: what is a shadowban?

What is a Shadowban?

Content on Instagram makes its way to your retinas through hashtags. These popular words get added to posts, which people then share or use the hashtag themselves, thereby increasing a hashtags popularity. Imagine a pyramid scheme, only no one is getting duped out of money. The process is the same: you share to a few people, and those few people then each share to more.

It’s safe to say Instagram practically runs on hashtags. And that’s where a shadowban comes into play.

For hashtags to reach more people, they have to see them. In order for your following to grow, people outside your circle of friends have to see your hashtags. That’s how your profile experiences growth and engagement. If you cut that ability out, you do NOT experience growth and engagement. That’s what shadowbanning does.

Hashtags will appear for your friends, but not for others outside that circle.

How To Know You’re Shadowbanned on Instagram

So, shadowbans are simple enough. But how do you know you’ve been targeted? You follow the hashtags. And no, this doesn’t require some third-party service. This can be done with Instagram.

As a word of advice, it’s a lot easier if you have a friend to help you out.

1. Start by creating a post on Instagram. Use hashtags that are relevant and niche, but not incredibly popular. For example, #music would bury your post in someone’s feed.

2. Get in touch with a friend. Have them Unfollow you.

3. Your friend then needs to search any of the hashtags you used and look for your post. Give it a few minutes before looking as the post may not appear immediately.

If your friend happens to see the content you shared, good for you. You aren’t shadowbanned.

If your friend doesn’t see your content, not so good for you. You’ve been shadowbanned.

Why You Were Shadowbanned

Naturally, you’ll want to know why. “I’ve done nothing wrong,” you might say. Unfortunately, you probably did. Instagram’s algorithm picked up on something from your profile that tipped it off and now has you playing the Quiet Game.

Now, to be fair, it’s also possible that Instagram made a mistake. The algorithm is in no way perfect; in fact, it can be pretty wrong sometimes.

Here’s a few reasons Instagram shadowbanned you:

  • Using automated apps/services/websites
  • Your profile is consistently reported
  • The use of “banned” hashtags

Do any of these sound familiar? If so, then it’s clear as to why it happened.

There isn’t a whole lot you can do except lay low for awhile. Shadowbans don’t last forever. Reevaluate your behavior on Instagram, use appropriate hashtags, and post your content yourself.