What is the Instagram shadowban?

What is the Instagram shadowban?


the shadowban Instagram is a phenomenon observed by users of the social network since the end of the 2010s: without prior warning or obvious explanation, the account experiences a drop in the engagement rate.

The company investigates, and notices that their account no longer appears in the search results or that their recent publication does not appear on the page of the hashtag used. As a result, its statistics are deteriorating: the number of subscribers is stagnating and the reach of publications is less, it is the overall performance of its social media marketing strategy that is affected. In addition to this risk, the Instagram shadowban poses an operational difficulty: insofar as Instagram does not communicate on this moderation technique on its own initiative, the sanction is complex to anticipate, identify and resolve. However, good practices make it possible to avoid it or at least to remedy it.

Shadowban Instagram: what is it?

The Instagram shadowban designates the hidden sanction imposed on the user of the social network who uses it in an improper manner. The a priori approach is virtuous, because it improves the user experience and avoids abuses. But this poses difficulties for the company, because Instagram does not formalize anywhere the conditions of application of this moderation measure. It is the practice that gives rise to the notion of “stealth banishment”. Without naming the Instagram shadowban, the company Meta published in 2019 about it, probably in response to questions from victim users. The company essentially explains that:

  • Instagram is on a mission to ensure that content recommended to the community is both safe and appropriate.
  • To this end, the social network reserves the right to reduce the scope of posts which, without violating the community rules, are inappropriate in Instagram’s opinion.
  • To reduce the reach of publications, Instagram’s algorithm limits their recommendation by the search engine on the one hand, by the hashtag pages on the other.
  • Example: the post that morality prohibits from public distribution is displayed in the subscriber’s news feed, but is not accessible to the community via the search engine or hashtag pages.
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This innominate procedure described by Meta is part of its strategy for the gradual management of problematic content, entitled “Remove, Reduce, Inform”. The Instagram shadowban is visibly similar to the “Reduce” level: without prohibiting, for lack of contractual basis, the social network limits. And the sanctioned company is not informed.

How do you know if you are shadowbanned?

The Instagram shadowban is neither notified nor flagrant. The company identifies signs that raise doubts, then checks. These signs are related to the account’s engagement, which is decreasing.

  1. Identify clues: the decrease in the number of views, likes, reposts, comments or clicks is an Instagram shadowban clue. Post reach is shrinking, and account stats prove it. Among these statistics, the company can notably consult the percentage of non-subscriber accounts affected by the publications: when it decreases, the shadowban is a probable explanation. Be careful though, the drop in the engagement rate can also be linked to the lack of quality or regularity of the publications. It should also be noted that the impact of the Instagram shadowban is variable, insofar as the procedure a priori is not framed.
  2. Identify the sanction: a simple and quick test allows the company to confirm its suspicions. She posts an image along with a hashtag that won’t drown the post out in competition, then asks non-subscriber accounts to search for the hashtag. If it is invisible from the results, the probability of shadowban Instagram is high.
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Among the objectives of its social media marketing strategy, the company aims to grow its audience. However, this growth is closely linked to the visibility of publications via the Instagram search engine as well as hashtag pages. When visibility suddenly decreases due to shadowban, the company has every interest in reacting promptly.

How to avoid Instagram shadowban?

Overall, Instagram moderates the account when abnormal activity is detected there. Making good use of the social network, without questionable activity, therefore allows a priori to avoid the shadowban.

  • The company likes and follows accounts in a reasonable way, and attracts followers through relevant content. The use of bots or other systems for automating like or subscription actions, as well as the purchase of subscribers, are non-compliant practices.
  • The company ensures that it does not use prohibited hashtags. The list of likely banned hashtags is long and moving, and includes for example: #like4like and #follow4follow.
  • The contents of the publications must respect good morals and public order, such as the rules draw the concepts in a given topicality. Content flagged as inappropriate increases the risk of Instagram punishment.
  • The use of only hashtags in connection with the content complies with Instagram’s rules of use and thus makes it possible to reduce the risk of shadowban.
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When the company is a victim, it can remedy the Instagram shadowban, which fortunately turns out to be temporary, in the following way:

  1. If applicable, immediately disable bots or other tools for automating Instagram actions. Beyond lifting the sanction, this corrective action makes it possible to better exploit the statistics of the page: the company is based on an audience actually engaged by the publications of the brand, and not on distorted figures.
  2. Stop using hashtags that have been banned or deprecated. Instagram reports on the dedicated pages when the hashtag is no longer allowed. Some websites also maintain a list of hashtags banned by Instagram.
  3. To make a break. The company, despite the shortfall, sometimes has to briefly stop using the social network to remedy the Instagram shadowban. On this occasion, it is appropriate to refer to the updated version of the conditions of use of the social network. In this way, the company refreshes its knowledge and is able to resume its use of Instagram under conditions that do not expose it to any risk of sanction.

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