You might have heard the term “Instagram shadow ban” being used quite a lot recently.

You might also know that it can have an impact on your reach and engagement on Instagram.

But what exactly is an Instagram shadow ban, and how does it affect your performance on the platform?

We’ve decided to give you a more detailed look at the issue so you can make preparations to avoid or fix it.

When you have been affected by an Instagram shadow ban, your hashtags will no longer be discoverable by people who don’t follow you.

You may be able to use hashtags, but your posts will only show up in your existing followers’ hashtag feeds.

This means you will no longer be able to attract a new audience, even when you’re using relevant hashtags.

So your post reach and engagement will naturally decline.

How to Tell If You’ve Been Shadow Banned

There are some common symptoms of shadow banning such as:

  • Lower engagement rates
  • Fewer comments
  • Decrease in impressions
  • Decrease in reach
  • Slowed follower growth

However, experiencing all of these problems doesn’t necessarily mean you have been affected by an Instagram shadow ban.

To make sure you’re experiencing shadow banning, you will need the help of a friend.

Ask them to unfollow you and then search for a hashtag that you’ve used in a recent post.

If the post doesn’t show up in their search results, it means you’ve been affected.

It’s probably worth using an uncommon hashtag so you post will appear close to the top of Instagram’s hashtag search results.

What Causes an Instagram Shadow Ban?

Although Instagram hasn’t released any official information about the cause of shadow banning, it’s obvious that a violation of their terms of use would be one of the main reasons.

Here are some possible reasons why you may get shadow banned on Instagram:

Buying Followers, Using Bots, or Using Automated Services

If you’re using an application that violates the terms of service of Instagram, there’s a good chance you will get shadow banned.

This includes using bots to grow your following, automating your posts, or automating your likes and comments.

bots cause shadow ban

In other words, you should avoid using any software that will automate how you engage with other Instagram accounts.

However, this doesn’t include applications that send you a push notification when it’s time to publish a post.

Using Broken or Abused Hashtags

Instagram has millions of people using it on a regular basis.

So there can be limitations in terms of controlling what kind of content people share on the platform.

Even harmless hashtags like #clothing could get overrun with content that’s inappropriate.

When Instagram notices such issues, they remove the hashtag entirely or limit its usage.

So when you use such broken or abused hashtags, your post stands a chance of getting shadow banned entirely.

It will have an impact on the other hashtags you are using in the post. In other words, the post will not show up at all in any of the hashtag searches.

To find out if you’re using a broken or abused hashtag, you will need to conduct a search for the hashtag.

You will still get results, but you wouldn’t be able to view anything beyond the first page.

And as you scroll to the bottom, you’ll get a message as shown in the screenshot below.

Instagram shadow ban

Abusing Daily and Hourly Limits of Instagram

Instagram has a limitation on the number of actions you can take in one day.

This includes the number of photos you like and comment on, as well as the number of accounts you follow and unfollow.

The limitations may vary depending on how long your account has been active.

However, it’s best not to like more than 150 photos in an hour.

Similarly, comments, follows, and unfollows should be limited to 60 per hour.

And you should also avoid activity surges, which may trigger Instagram to shadow ban you.

Being Reported Regularly

The easiest way for Instagram users to warn the platform about an account that’s violating their community guidelines or terms of service is by reporting said account.

And when users find an account that’s infringing copyrights, spamming, or publishing inappropriate content, they may report it.

If your account gets reported regularly, Instagram could end up shadow banning you.

In the worst case scenario, your account may be disabled altogether.


Now you have a clearer idea of what Instagram shadow banning is, and the likely causes of it.

And you also have a better idea how to avoid getting affected.

These insights can help you whether you’re an influencer or you’re running a brand account.