Poof! Just like that, your Instagram account is gone—an issue all of us Instagram users are terrified of, and something that has unfortunately become a popular concern nowadays.
Since Instagram’s latest algorithm changes this past July, Instagram began analyzing our activity, including something as minimal as the way we scroll through our feed and how we “like” posts. By doing so, Instagram can identify whether you’re a real person or a bot, or catch you if you begin behaving differently, thus, assuming you’re using a bot.
Although Instagram claims that the shadowban isn’t real, many accounts have been victims of it. Are you one of them? Here’s how to find out if you are, what might have caused it, and how to get your Instagram account back!
But first, what’s a shadowban?
The Instagram shadowban limits the visibility of your content and prevents it from being discovered by users who don’t already follow your account. As a result, engagement and amount of followers significantly drop.
Signs your account has been shadowbanned:
- Your engagement has noticeably decreased—and when I say noticeably, I mean a HUGE decrease in engagement. You will especially notice during the first few minutes after posting. If you usually get likes or comments right after posting, you’ll notice that it will take a while to get only a few likes or comments.
- After publishing a post: click on one of your hashtags (a small hashtag), go to “recent posts,” and try to find your post. If your post doesn’t appear there, you are definitely shadowbanned. To double check, have someone who doesn’t follow you do the same. Sometimes the post might be visible to you, but not others.
- Your following count keeps decreasing.
- You’ll notice that only accounts that are already following you are engaging with your content.
Reasons that may have caused the shadowban:
- The use of a bot to increase followers
- Liking too many posts at once (bot-like behavior)
- Following or unfollowing too many accounts at once (bot-like behavior)
- Commenting randomly (again, bot-like behavior)
- Always using the same hashtags
- Continuously posting similar or repetitive content
Now, let’s work on getting your account back!
Change up your hashtags
Even if you’ve never used a bot in your life, you might get in trouble for using the same set of hashtags repeatedly. Instagram is all about authentic content, which is why using the same hashtags could be an indication of spammy content. Depending on your post frequency, create a few sets of hashtags to keep your posts fresh. For instance, if you post five times a week, create 5 sets of completely different hashtags for each day of the week. The more hashtag sets you use, the less likely you are to get in trouble.
Additionally, don’t use too many hashtags per set. Although the hashtag limit is 30 per post, there’s no need to max that out!
Disconnect your account from all apps
Whether it’s an app that tells you who has unfollowed you or a scheduling app such as HootSuite, disconnect from all of them. Although some apps are harmless, it’s recommended to do everything organically in order to demonstrate that you are not violating any terms.
The shadowban also works in very mysterious ways. It will never tell you exactly why your account is being punished, which is why it’s best to stay on the safe side by disconnecting from all apps. If you use Instagram for business and use a scheduling app to post, post manually until the problem is resolved.
Have everyone log out if there are multiple users
If you want your account back, your new mission in life is to be as low-key as you possibly can. Sign out from the account, and if there are other users signed in, have them sign out as well. If there are multiple users engaging simultaneously, this could be misinterpreted as bot activity and delay the process of getting your account back.
Be strong and take a break
Stop all activity for a couple of days, and gradually resume in order to prove that you’re not a bot. Not engaging or posting on Instagram is hard, but it’ll pay off once you’re no longer shadowbanned.
Never EVER use a bot—or stop doing so if you are!
If you are using a bot that follows accounts, leaves comments, or likes posts, immediately deactivate it. The use of a bot is most likely the reason why your account is shadowbanned.
I’ve seen some cases where you’ll be able to gain access to your account as soon as you pause the bot, but the shadowban will remain for a couple of days. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way for all, and although you might be able to get access to your account immediately after pausing the bot, it might take weeks for the shadowban to end.
Although it is a scary and frustrating process, at least you’ll know that everything will go back to normal, and you’ll learn a lesson you’ll never forget!
The last—and scariest—resort: contact Instagram
Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you’ve done all of the above, it’s been a couple of days, and you still can’t access your account, it’s time to reach out to Instagram. When you do so, you’ll be asked to provide your name, username, and password.
For business accounts, things get a little more complicated. You’ll need to provide documents such as an invoice or tax filing record to prove that you own the account. After providing this information, Instagram should be able to reactivate your account.
There are also cases where things could get a little more intense—oh yes, there’s more! After sending the information listed above, Instagram might send you further instructions to ensure that you own the account. Instagram will send you a code, you’ll need to write that down along with your name and username on a piece of paper, and take a picture of yourself holding the sheet with the requested information. This process can be a little awkward and intimidating, but you should be able to recuperate your account by the next day.
As you can see, Instagram takes its terms of service very seriously, and all users should as well. Implement the tips above, and your precious Instagram account should be safe and sound. Stay away from the shadowban, and best of luck!