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Stay One Step Ahead of the Instagram Shadowban

Lauren Aston
4 October 2017

Here we are again,

The Instagram Shadowban is still around and in full force, this time with even more people affected than before. And although we know from our last conversation that it makes sense really, it still hurts when we feel like our marvellous images and thoughtful compositions are disappearing into ‘the internet’ without people being able to see how wonderful they were and give the double tap of appreciation.

I think most of us can agree, we’re on Instagram to mingle with its creative community, share images of things we enjoy and hopefully get lots of ‘likes’ to validate that we’re well good at ‘capturing moments’. I know, I know, it’s not about the numbers – they really don’t matter, however when you work hard to build your own little Instagram community and then something happens that stops it in its tracks, it really is a bit heartbreaking (possibly another overreact but you understand my point.)

Stuck on repeat

I know I’ve already done a post on the Shadowban and I’ll try not to repeat myself too much but there are a few more bits that have come up since so I thought I’d expand, plus we all know how much I enjoy blabbering on about Instagram to anyone who’ll listen.

Rather than discussing it in great depth again here, if you enjoy tinkering on instagram and aren’t familiar with the Shadowban it’s probably worth reading my first blog on the subject as it goes into a lot more detail (amazing considering I manage to drag this post out forever, I know!)

But what IS it?

Firstly let’s quickly cover what the Shadowban actually is … basically is a way of squashing/blocking/hiding bad behaviour and naughty accounts on Instagram. It is all ultimately for a very good reason, to keep it a happy and healthy environment where we’re not all spammed with d*ck pics (amongst other hideous things) but the trouble is that there’s no way to check everyones account individually so Instagram have to put blanket rules out (if you pardon the pun) to catch ‘bad behaviour’ and sometimes we get caught up in it and our engagement is reduced as a result.

On top of this there are also a lot of people effected by a recent hack where Instagram asked users to reconfirm their login details, and as a matter of precaution it seems they are then squashing the reach on those accounts for 2 weeks. (If you were asked to confirm your login details then the consensus seems to be to give it 14 days before fretting and just crack on as you were.)

How will I know?

If you’re affected you’ll probably notice a fall in engagement on your posts, quite a dramatic fall normally – it is worth noting that the algorithm on Instagram does sometimes change and so it may not be that you’re shadow banned just that you’re effected by the algorithm. There’s also a website that claims it can check for you but it’s apparently just making sh*t up as it goes along so best to just ignore that.

The only real way to confirm it is manually by using an account that does not follow you, here’s a quick step-by-step:

  1. Either create a new account or ask a friend to unfollow you and check from there.
  2. On your next post use a hashtag that isn’t too saturated, I often use #laurenastondesigns as it’s still relevant to my images but if you’re not a business you could come up with an obscure one that relates to your picture.
  3. On your normal account you should be able to find your post and see where it sits in that hashtag, when you check on the alternate account that isn’t following you, if your image/s are visible in the same spot then you’re fine, if however they’re missing altogether; you are likely shadow banned.

 Best to get a cup of tea and try not to worry about it...

Best to get a cup of tea and try not to worry about it…

What to do next

As I mentioned in my previous post it’s important not to display any odd/robotic behaviour as this could confuse IG into thinking you’re not a real human resulting in a ban. Here’s a wee list of do’s and don’ts:

  • Check your Authorised accounts and make sure that they’re not following and unfollowing for you (more on that below)
  • Don’t go on a ‘spree‘ of liking, commenting and following hundreds of times in one go
  • Stay active on insta and get involved with the community by commenting and chatting with people (at a normal rate, as a human being – talk to people as you would do in real life)
  • Mix up your hashtags and don’t use banned tags (again, more on that below)
  • There’s recently been talk that taking a break isn’t particularly helpful so it seems best to keep posting and just try to crack on despite the low engagement
  • Don’t buy likes or follows as IG knoooooows (yet again, more below)

Checking your Authorised Accounts

*Confession Time*

On my last post I preached to check your authorised accounts and make sure you haven’t let any apps into your account that might be doing naughty things….I didn’t ever actually check myself *hangs head in shame* I kept clicking on the settings on the app, not seeing where to check and giving up with a slightly smug feeling of ‘I’d never let anything naughty on there anyway, *scoff* I’m an insta-angel!’

It wasn’t until recently when my engagement dropped way down that I figured I really ought to do it properly and to my horror (…all the drama) I have a number of apps that were liking and unliking for me and following and unfollowing for me!! I genuinely went a bit chilly at the realisation and definitely kicked myself for not having checked sooner.

So for anyone like me who hasn’t ‘got around’ to checking because you can’t find it straight away, here’s how…

  1. Log onto Instagram on a computer
  2. Go to your profile (the head and shoulders, top right hand)
  3. Click on the little cog
  4. Click Authorised Accounts
  5. It will list all the apps that are connected with your instagram and say what they have access to do, NONE of them should be liking, following or posting for you, if they are; ‘revoke access’.

It’s fine connecting to things like your website as long as it’s only accessing basic information (as shown below). When I first got Instagram, on my last phone I downloaded a Repost App that I thought was OK (one of the ones that puts the name of the person you’re regramming on it) and although I deleted the repost app – because I wasn’t using it – and then got a new phone… the app was still allowed access and was liking and following for me!

It’s always worth a check as it’s not always programs you’d expect.

 This is OK ^ *thumbs up* plus I LOVE squarespace (my website host) they'd never do anything naughty This is OK ^ *thumbs up* plus I LOVE squarespace (my website host) they’d never do anything naughty

Hashtagging woes

Hashtags are super important for discovering new accounts and people finding us so it’s great to use them but we need to be both careful and imaginative. It’s really easy to be lazy when it comes to hashtagging but if you put some work in and research which tags are being used by other accounts, which are popular and appropriate then it can really pay off.

The is very important when it comes to the Shadowban because one of the spammy behaviours that Instagram picks up on is the constant use of the same hashtags so do try to mix them up as much as possible and really importantly – use tags that are RELEVANT to your image!

The other minefield with hashtags is blocked tags. My previous Shadowban post discusses them in much more detail and there’s a list on of loads of unexpected banned hashtags such as #boho and #TGIF and #todayimwearing. They seem to change constantly so although it’s a drag, it generally best to search your hashtags to check they aren’t banned (my last post explains how to tell if a tag is banned, basically scroll down to beneath the ‘Top Posts’ and if it says that they’re currently hidden then it’s blocked/banned so don’t use it)

 A few of the surprising banned tags via

A few of the surprising banned tags via

The problem with paying

I’m mentioning this because firstly, it’s not a good plan and secondly, there’s always someone who flings the “you’ve bought followers” accusation my way *eye roll* so just briefly – there’s absolutely no point in buying followers friends (I know you know that) not just because you’ll likely be shadow banned as a result but also because if you’re a business or blogger then the point in social media and marketing is to connect with real people who will support your business and become brand ambassadors whether that be through commenting, purchasing or supporting in another way. Robots don’t do this and they don’t buy blankets …or other products.

The only reason I can imagine you’d do it (other than being drunk) would be a bit of a self indulgent desire to become the ‘popular kid’ with loads of followers but the trouble with this is that it’s very obvious to tell when someone has done it because they get really bad engagement on their posts compared to how many followers they have. Also you haven’t earned it which really is part of the fun. So really…Why?

Over to you…

Well that’s all I could possibly say on the subject at the moment – especially as this was supposed to be a brief recap and I’ve managed to bang on for about a decade (sorry about that!)

I’d love to hear about your experiences with the shadowban and whether you’ve shifted it or not? Also did everyone in the world apart from me know you need to be on a computer to check your authorised accounts?

Speak soon

L x

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