Do you suspect you’re a shadowban victim on Instagram? Here’s how to run a quick check and set it right! Three signs that could point to a shadowban on Instagram:

  1. A drop in your engagement patterns
  2. A decline in your follower count (every social media maven’s bete noire!)
  3. Your posts sometimes not latching on to their hashtags

The term ‘shadowban’ was first coined more than a decade ago, but it seems to be doing the rounds lately after an Instagrammer noticed that his images were not appearing in some hashtag searches (like we all needed that added stress). And it isn’t only on Instagram. Twitter also introduced this a few months ago, in a bid to check abuse on its platform, among many other digital media and social media platforms. From The Verge:

Allowing a user to continue to post to a forum but limiting who can actually see those posts is commonly known as a shadow ban or a stealth ban. But it has other names, and it’s one of the oldest moderation tricks in the forum book. In its earlier iterations, vBulletin forum software called it “tachy goes to coventry.”

In other words, you could call this social media’s equivalent of ghosting.

How to Avoid Reduced Visibility

In case you are noticing either a declining follower count or engagement, here are some corrective steps you can take to get yourself back into Instagram’s good books once again.

  1. Check If You’ve Overshot Your Allowed Follow Count: Instagram actually caps the number of accounts you can follow at 7,500. So while the world is your oyster and you can catch the glint of the sun on its shell in a photograph and post it to Instagram, you will have to unfollow someone if you’re already following 7,500 accounts. 7,500 are a lot of people to follow on Instagram, and you are not likely to follow all of them in one day, but newer accounts have slightly stricter caps on the number of accounts they can follow in a day.
  2. Don’t Go Hitting Like On Every Post: Unless you are a robot. Literally. Because liking more than ~300 posts per hour can send you straight into Instagram’s dreaded “spam activity detected” folder. It’s tempting to heart all those photos to get your name out there, but if you are someone who chronically hits like every time someone posts, you are not likely to be treated as an engaged community member, just a spammer.
  3. Want to send a direct message? Restrict Yourself to No More Than 15: Refrain from adding that 16th member. Or making too many groups of 15. Not everyone (and by that, I mean no one) likes their inboxes cramped.
  4. Don’t Go Hashtag Crazy: Again, tone it down. Not everything can be a hashtag. A hashtag is to help people discover content that they like, so hashtagging a picture of your cat snoozing under the afternoon sun #catsnoozingundertheafternoonsunisnthecute is a bit much. Also, Instagram recommends no more than 30 hashtags per post. (But seriously, why would you want to use that many?)
  5. Don’t Tag Everyone: No more than 15-20 users per post. You may have the world’s largest circle of connections, but chances are not all of them will belong in the same frame. I will go so far as to say not all of them will want to be tagged in every single post of yours.

As with everything else in life, moderation is key. Know these rules, respect them, and you will never have to worry about being shadowbanned.

Further Reading:

Instagram Shadowban? What Marketers Need to Know – Social Media Examiner

One of Twitter’s new anti-abuse measures is the oldest trick in the forum moderation book – The Verge

Twitter begins filtering abusive tweets out of your replies – The Verge