Instagram Shadowban: What It Is & How To Fix It

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Have you noticed your Instagram engagement suddenly plummeting? Posts disappearing from hashtags? Follower growth screeching to a halt?

You may be the victim of the dreaded Instagram shadowban.

As a fellow Instagrammer, I feel your pain. I‘ve been shadowbanned not once, but twice over the years. It‘s endlessly frustrating to have your account visibility throttled through no fault of your own.

But there is hope! In this monster guide, I‘ll share everything I learned recovering from two shadowban nightmares.

You‘ll discover:

  • What an Instagram shadowban is
  • How to confirm you‘ve been shadowbanned
  • Why shadowbans happen
  • How long they last
  • How to fix a shadowban
  • How to avoid future shadowbans

By the end, you‘ll be a shadowban expert ready to regain your Instagram mojo. Let‘s get started!

What is an Instagram Shadowban?

The term "shadowban" refers to when Instagram deliberately makes your content undiscoverable and limits your visibility without notice.

You won‘t receive any kind of alert or notification about a shadowban. Instagram won‘t even admit they shadowban accounts!

According to Instagram themselves, shadowbanning isn‘t real. They claim any post visibility issues are accidental algorithm errors.

But countless social media managers, influencers, and businesses insist otherwise. They‘ve experienced drastic overnight drops in engagement, profile views, and follower growth for no obvious reason.

After debugging every other possible cause, the only plausible culprit left is a stealthy Instagram shadowban.

The Technical Explanation

On a technical level, being shadowbanned means Instagram has flagged your account as spam or otherwise problematic. Their systems suppress your posts and profile so it‘s invisible to the outside world.

You and your current followers will see your content just fine. But to new users, your posts won‘t show up in hashtags, Explore page, or account recommendations. Your profile is hidden from search results as well.

This destroys all visibility and organic reach. You can no longer gain followers through hashtags or be discovered by new users who don‘t already follow you.

It‘s like you‘re put in Instagram jail without knowing what you did wrong!

Signs You May Be Shadowbanned

Wondering if you‘ve been shadowbanned? Watch for these warning signs:

1. Engagement Drops Drastically

If your engagement rate plummets without reason, you may be shadowbanned.

I‘m talking dropping over 50% almost overnight, like going from 500 likes per post down to 150.

Sudden unexplained drops in comments and story views also indicate a potential shadowban.

2. Follower Growth Stops

Organic follower growth screeching to a halt can signal your account visibility is suppressed.

Despite using the same hashtags and posting frequency, you‘ll notice new followers are trickling in at a snail‘s pace or stopped completely.

3. Posts Disappear from Hashtags

Start checking hashtags on your posts immediately after publishing. Toggle between accounts to view as a follower vs non-follower.

If your posts aren‘t showing up under related hashtags like normal, especially for niche tags, you‘re likely shadowbanned.

4. Profile Views Plummet

Your Instagram profile analytics will usually show a big spike in profile views when you‘re doing well.

But during a shadowban, profile traffic and discovery goes off a cliff. Seeing this metric flatline is a red flag.

How to Confirm You‘re Shadowbanned

Suspect you‘re shadowbanned but want to be sure? Use these methods to confirm:

Instagram Shadowban Test Sites

Third-party websites like allow you to enter your username to detect if your recent posts are appearing in hashtag searches or not.

This should give you a definite yes or no on whether you‘re shadowbanned.

Manual Hashtag Checks

Do manual checks yourself by searching hashtags you‘ve recently used on posts. Toggle between accounts and see if you consistently appear for followers but never for non-followers.

Social Blade Stats

Analytics services like SocialBlade show whether your follower growth is rising or stalled out. Flatlined growth can indicate you‘ve been shadowbanned.

Ask Friends to Search Your Profile

Have friends try searching your exact Instagram handle in the app. You shouldn‘t show up in search during a shadowban unless they already follow you.

Compare Impressions Pre- and Post-Issue

Use Instagram‘s analytics to compare your impressions from before and after potential shadowban dates. Big drops confirm your content‘s visibility decreased.

Switch to a Personal Account

Switching from a business to a personal account has worked to suddenly increase visibility for some who were shadowbanned. Quickly test it out.

If multiple tests point to your reach decreasing, it‘s safe to say you very likely got shadowbanned by Instagram.

Next, let‘s explore exactly why shadowbans happen in the first place.

What Triggers an Instagram Shadowban?

While Instagram isn‘t open about their shadowban criteria, users have identified some common triggers:

Violating Community Guidelines

Posting extremely hateful, dangerous, or otherwise unacceptable content frequently results in shadowbans.

Basically anything violating Instagram‘s community guidelines could trigger a ban.

Using Banned Hashtags

Hashtags banned for promoting violence, hate speech, or other policy violations will initiate an immediate shadowban if used.

Even a single banned hashtag can blacklist your entire account.

Spamming Hashtags

Using tons of barely relevant hashtags or repeating exact hashtag lists on all posts looks very spammy to Instagram. Too aggressive with hashtags = shadowban.

Rampant Bot Activity

Using bots or automation services to grow your account is a surefire way to get shadowbanned. Instagram hates when you cheat!

Sudden High Activity Spikes

Drastic spikes in following, commenting, liking, and posting frequency can trigger shadowbans by looking fake. Take it slow and steady.

Multiple Account Reports

Getting reported for harassment, stealing content, privacy violations, etc. often provokes Instagram to shadowban accounts.

Aggressive Follow/Unfollow

Following and then unfollowing thousands of accounts too quickly screams bot behavior. Instagram will assume you‘re a spammer.

Basically, any behavior violating Instagram‘s terms of service or looking fake, aggressive, or bot-like to the algorithm can initiate a shadowban.

How Long Do Instagram Shadowbans Last?

There‘s no single standard shadowban duration. Some only last days, others can persist for months if you continue posting.

On average, expect to be suppressed for 1-4+ weeks depending on ban severity. Minor infractions may lift faster while serious violations can get you stuck in shadowban-land.

Here‘s a quick snapshot of average shadowban timelines:

Shadowban Reason Average Ban Duration
1-2 Community Guidelines Violations 1-2 Weeks
Repeated Guidelines Violations 1+ Months
Banned Hashtags 2-3 Weeks
Hashtag Spam 1-3 Weeks
Bot Usage 2-4+ Weeks
Fake Engagement 2-3 Weeks
Multiple Reports 4+ Weeks
Aggressive Follow/Unfollow 2-3 Weeks

The most important thing is to stop posting until your ban lifts. Posting during a ban will keep refreshing the timers and prolong your suffering!

Now let‘s get into the good stuff: how to recover from a shadowban.

How to Get Rid of an Instagram Shadowban

Got slapped with a shadowban? Here are the most effective ways experts have successfully restored their account visibility:

1. Stop Posting Immediately

Resist the urge to keep posting as normal. Adding more content will worsen and extend your ban.

Halt all posts and stories for 1-2 weeks until your ban lifts.

2. Remove Any Offensive Content

Scrub your profile of any posts that violate community guidelines or could be considered offensive.

Also delete any banned hashtags you may have used accidentally. Clean account = quicker recovery.

3. Cut Out Bot Services

If you were using any automation tools or bot-powered services, delete them immediately. This is very likely what triggered your shadowban.

4. Scale Back Actions

When you resume posting after 1-2 weeks, start slow. Post just 1-2 times per day max to avoid a spammy appearance.

5. Diversify Hashtags

Research and use fresh, relevant hashtags per post. Mix both popular and very niche hashtags instead of spamming the same ones.

6. Engage Thoughtfully

Take time to like and comment on posts in your niche thoughtfully, no spam or bots. Interact like a real person.

7. Limit Follow/Unfollow

Temporarily stop any power following and limit unfollows to under 100-200 per day from a few different accounts.

8. Ask Others to Search Your Profile

Request that friends try searching for your handle and report back if you now appear for them. This helps gauge if your visibility is returning.

9. Appeal the Shadowban

Reporting your shadowban through Instagram‘s official help page likely won‘t work, but it doesn‘t hurt to try politely appealing.

10. Switch Account Types

As a last resort, try switching business accounts back to personal to restore visibility. Many have succeeded with this method.

With patience and playing by the rules, your engagement and growth should slowly recover within 1-6 weeks.

Prevent Future Shadowbans

Once your account is back from the shadows, it‘s crucial to avoid getting banned again. Here are some key prevention tips:

1. Read Instagram‘s Terms

Carefully review Instagram‘s entire terms of service and community guidelines documents. Know them well.

2. Avoid Banned Hashtags

Research lists of Instagram banned hashtags online and avoid using any of them in your posts.

3. Don‘t Repeat Hashtags

Avoid copying and pasting the same hashtags in all your posts. Mix it up and use relevant tags per post theme.

4. Post Just 2-3 Times Daily At Most

Post consistently but limit yourself to maximum 2-3 posts per day, with decent spacing between posts.

5. Use Unique Hashtags

Include a healthy mix of popular and very niche hashtags fitting each post specifically. Don‘t spam the same tags.

6. Engage Meaningfully

Take time to comment on and like other posts in your niche. No bot spam comments or inauthentic engagement.

7. Limit Follow/Unfollow

Follow just 100-200 accounts per day MAX in relevant niche communities. Unfollow sparingly under 500-1000 per week.

8. Avoid Dramatic Growth Spikes

Keep your growth steady and consistent. Don‘t dramatically inflate following, likes, or posts overnight or you‘ll look fake.

9. Don‘t Automate Anything

Stay away from any automation tools or bot services for you account. Do every action manually yourself.

10. Report Offensive Comments

Use Instagram‘s tools to report offensive, hateful comments instead of replying. Don‘t engage trolls.

Stay vigilant following these best practices and you‘ll avoid additional shadowbans from the Instagram police.

Is There Any Way to Appeal Shadowbans?

Since Instagram doesn‘t publicly admit shadowbanning exists, there‘s no formal ban appeal process in place currently.

But it doesn‘t hurt to politely report your situation through their official channels:

  • Open your profile
  • Tap the three dot menu button
  • Select "Report a Problem"
  • Choose "Something Went Wrong"
  • Explain you seem to be shadowbanned

While you likely won‘t get an actual response admitting fault, reporting issues can prompt Instagram to refine their systems and algorithms over time.

You can also try tweeting at Instagram or otherwise contacting them to insist your account has been unfairly limited. But in most cases you‘ll just need to ride it out.

Having no visibility into the reason for your ban or recourse to appeal it is extremely frustrating. But by studying the steps that resolve shadowbans for others, we can reverse engineer solutions.

Should You Start a New Account After Being Shadowbanned?

If your current Instagram remains stuck in shadowban mode after a month or more of effort, starting fresh may be tempting.

But be warned – getting caught intentionally evading bans by creating new accounts can trigger an outright permanent ban on all your current and future Instagram accounts.

You‘re better off keeping focus on rescuing your existing profile rather than risking the wrath of Instagram‘s ban hammers further.

In very rare cases where your username is completely permabanned, you may be able to request permission from Instagram to start a new account with a strict probationary period.

But your chances of approval after an intentional ban evasion permaban are slim to none. Tread carefully.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with an Instagram shadowban is frustrating, but solvable. Stay patient, post less, and keep your account activity strictly above board to regain standing.

Now you know exactly what an Instagram shadowban is, how to recognize if you‘ve been banned, why shadowbans happen, and how to rehab your account.

The most important takeaway is to always follow Instagram‘s terms of service and focus on engagement over growth hacks. Provide value to your audience through consistent content.

Stay the course with your account and don‘t stress too much over temporary hiccups like shadowbans. Your hard work will pay off in the end.

Have you dealt with an Instagram shadowban before? What tactics worked to restore your account? Let me know in the comments!


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.