Instagram Shadowban — The Excuse Losers Use

Jul 10, 2020
Instagram Shadowban article cover photo

I hear people throwing this term around, without knowing what's actually happening.

Especially Instagram marketers, when they can't tell their clients why they're not reaching their followers, or why they're not growing.

Saying "you're just shadowbanned" is a good place to hide. Saying "Instagram magically decreased your reach so now you're shadowbanned" is much easier, than to say "I don't know what's happening to your account, and I don't know how to fix it."

Shadowban is a term made up by confused content creators and marketers, whose reach has dropped significantly – sometimes their posts got hidden as well – and they don't know why, or what to do about it.

Rumors says it, that you have to start promoting your posts (pay Instagram so they see you're a good customer) to get out of the shadowban. Or sometimes they say the opposite. Once you pay, IG will limit your reach, because then they want you to pay more.

Total confusion out there.

Let me tell you what's happening. (At least what I think is happening.)

Instagram, as a community platform with 1.5 billion users (1,500,000,000) is constantly trying to filter out content that is against their policy. But they can't do it manually.

They created algorithms to monitor content, and determine whether it is safe to show to the users, or not.

Let me quote an official article from Facebook, where they talk about Instagram's Explore feed:

"We want to make sure the content we recommend is both safe and appropriate for a global community of many ages on Explore. Using a variety of signals, we filter out content we can identify as not being eligible to be recommended before we build out eligible inventory for each person. In addition to blocking likely policy-violating content and misinformation, we leverage ML (Machine Learning) systems that help detect and filter content like spam."

If the content gets flagged by this algorithm, its reach is limited to only a small fraction of the followers, and gets hidden from the Explore feed and hashtags. That's the "shadowban". Except it's not "shadow" because Instagram tells you what it doesn't want on their platform.

So, you might be wondering, what content gets flagged by this algorithm?

Here's my DON'T POST list:

  • Nudity (sexual intercourse, genitals, buttocks close-ups, nipples)
    EXCEPT: "photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too.
  • Spam ("artificially collecting likes, followers, or shares, posting repetitive comments or content, or repeatedly contacting people for commercial purposes without their consent."
  • Misinformation
  • Guns, terrorism, organized crime
  • Hate speech, harassment, bullying
  • Selling alcohol, tobbaco, illegal or prescription drugs
  • Purchase and sale of live animals (allowed by brick-and-mortar stores)
  • Content you don't own (or no credits given)
  • Online gambling or get-rich-quick schemes
  • Graphic violence (if you post to raise awareness or educate – e.g, surgery or dental practice, animal rights, etc. – disclaim that in the caption)

You can read more details on Instagram's page about Community Guidelines.

There are some hashtags, that are commonly used under these types of content, and some of them are banned.

If you followed along my course (and some of my free content), you might have signed up for IQhashtags. They have a feature that tells you if you are using banned hashtags.​

For example, using #sexy #sex #boobs and even #logodesign will decrease your reach, as these are banned hashtags. Try to avoid them, or get "shadowbanned".

In quotation marks, because this is not in the "shadows". Instagram clearly states it doesn't want nudity on their platform. If you still go against the Terms (which you accepted when signing up), don't be surprised if you don't go viral...

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