I don’t know if you know this about this firm, but the reason it exists is because of a personal Instagram page @LiftingLawyer. I started that page to document my fitness lifestyle, I had just graduated from law school, and fitness Instagram was new. Fast forward to 2017 and I received quite a few inquiries from fitness influencers and other fitness brands so it dawned on me that perhaps there was a need for a lawyer who spoke fitness and law.
So, what does all of that have to do with today’s post? Well, Instagram is actually pretty important to my clients since that is where they all “live.” Which had me wondering about this so-called shadowban and how it was impacting my clients and maybe even my business page!
What is the Instagram Shadowban?
Instagram will actively hide posts and profiles from the discover page and possibly even from your current followers if you violate their terms of service. Even if you didn’t know you were violating them. This creates a cycle that can have a pretty big impact on your growth and visibility. You aren’t being seen by new users, your growth is down, your engagement will go down, and then you are punished by the “algorithm” for having poor engagement.
Seems like a never-ending cycle that no one asked for. And, if you have a personal or business brand tied to your social media this can eventually hurt sales.
I can see why Instagram has something like the shadowban in place. It allows them some control over accounts that don’t comply with their terms. Some of these accounts are bots and fakes and on one like those anyway. However, because they use technology to implement this policy there is no room for error, and discretion is not used in determining if something is a purposeful violation, an accident, or not really a violation at all. Of course, it’s important to note that Instagram hasn’t officially said they do this but it’s pretty clear this is happening.
What violates the terms of service?
There are probably many reasons why Instagram might flag your profile and decide to hide it from the broader audience. But let’s take a look at some of the most likely reasons why an account might get hit with the shadowban.
1. You’re using bots or automation
I know I know, those companies just reached out! And it seemed like a no brainer. Growth, engagement, and you don’t have to do anything?! Great. Except not great because a lot of those Instagram growth companies use bots and automation to like, comment, or gain followers and that’s a huge no from Instagram (and frankly from the rest of us). So if you’re paying someone else to run your Instagram account you should consider stopping this.
2. Your account is being reported
This one is a little harder to deal with. Your account may get reported by other users for whatever violation that the user has determined is applicable. Instagram will assume you are posting inappropriate content if this happens often enough and they may shadowban you or disable the account.
3. Broken hashtags
If you use a hashtag in your captions or possibly even in your stories Instagram will likely shadowban that post and eventually your account if you keep doing it. A broken hashtag is one that is overrun with inappropriate content connected to it. I think I read somewhere that #humpday is not broken. I’m sure you don’t need to stretch the imagination to know what kind of inappropriate content is being connected to that one…
4. You post, comment, like, or generally engage too quickly
This is where the lack of human oversight causes an issue. If you’re doing things too rapidly on your profile Instagram assumes you’re a bot and will do what they can to stop your account. Instagram has rules about how quickly you can engage on the platform. They want to promote real and meaningful connection and liking 100 photos in one minute is likely the opposite of that.
How can you fix or prevent being Shadowbanned?
It’s pretty simple. Stop doing any of the above things. You can check if any of your posts have been banned through various shadowban detectors that have pooped up over the last year or so. A quick Google search will get you to plenty of sites that allow you to type in your Instagram handle and check for what’s been banned.
If you’re using a bot or automated service you really should stop. Look into the hashtags you use regularly and see if they’ve been banned. You can do this by searching the hashtag on Instagram if the results say they’re hidden it’s likely banned. You can also take to Google to do a little research on this.
Another great thing to do to get your account back in good standing is to take a break from using Instagram altogether. Get off the platform don’t log in to your account. Let it rest and get off of Instagram’s radar for a bit. I know this seems drastic but it usually does the trick. They think two days is enough.
Finally, just make sure to follow the terms of service! I know some of the terms are questionable and there are many arguments to be made about how and what Instagram censors or doesn’t like but it’s their platform so you have to play by their rules. And that’s where the law comes in. Because they are a private business they kind of get to do whatever they want. When you sign up to use the platform you agree to their terms. If you don’t like them you have the option to remove yourself from the platform. And that’s where we are at right now.
Have questions about the shadowban? Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that this is not meant to be legal advice for you or your situation, this is merely some legal research and knowledge on the given topic.