In the last couple of months, the world of Instagram has been filled with rumors about how Instagram’s algorithm is decreasing the reach of certain posts for certain profiles. Have you also noticed a drop of engagement in the last few months but don’t know why? Perhaps you’re a victim of an emergence that’s been the main topic among the most fervent Instagramers.

What is a shadow ban?

Shadow ban is Instagram’s measure that punishes users who are in any way violating their terms and conditions. The term first appeared a couple of months ago on the social media Twitter, which used this technique to temporarily punish people posting offensive or inappropriate content. A user is not informed about this measure in advance and is not even aware of it – the only indication is the drastically decreased reach of their posts.

On the other hand, Instagram’s shadow ban hides the users’ posts under the hashtag that was used in the post. In practice, this means that the users who are not yet following an account can’t find the photograph of that account among the last or top posts.

How can you find out if you’re a victim of a shadow ban?

The quickest way to find out is to ask an Instagram user to temporarily stop following you. Then, they should go through the hashtags you’ve used in your photo and check whether they can find you among them.

Seeing how you’re reading this article, we can assume that you’ve already heard of the shadow ban and are worried that Instagram will also punish you with a reduced reach. Keep on reading; we will explain what triggers the shadow ban in the first place. So don’t panic – it can happen to anyone!

What triggers a shadow ban?

1. Using bots and automation. We know that using bots to post your photos, leave comments and press likes seems like a great opportunity to gain a high number of followers in a short amount of time, but bots are strictly forbidden by Instagram. By using automation you’re breaking Instagram’s basic terms and conditions, so the algorithm will punish you accordingly.

2. Using forbidden hashtags. Besides the obviously forbidden hashtags (violence, nudity, etc.), the black list also contains hashtags with seemingly completely innocent words. We’re convinced that using them can happen to anyone at one point. A certain hashtag is banned when a few users post inappropriate photos and use that hashtag. When those photos are reported, Instagram temporarily suspends that hashtag. We’d advise you to make sure a certain hashtag isn’t on the black list before using it. You can check this by looking over the posts shown beneath it. If a hashtag is forbidden, it will show a message that all posts are currently hidden (see the image below). An example of completely “innocent” hashtags that are temporarily forbidden: