In this post I’m going to diverge from the world of food that I normally write about and have a bit of a go explaining the Instagram shadowban. Have you heard of it? It’s essentially a black mark against your account that causes your engagement (likes, comments, saves) to drop dramatically and for your followers to one-by-one start deserting you.

Essentially, Instagram have banned the use of some hashtags on Instagram because they have been used for spamming, abuse, inappropriate content and general nastiness. The only problem is that Instagram didn’t TELL anyone that they were going to start banning these hashtags until you use them and get no engagement on your posts, hence why it’s called a ‘shadowban’.

How did I know I was shadowbanned? Two things.

  1. On my @ginandjuicing food Instagram account I posted a picture of a burger, not just any burger, but a double bacon cheese burger from Five Guys, with pickles and cheese dangling out of it. It ticked all the boxes for burger porn and up it went on Insta. And what happened? Nothing. A few likes dripped in, mainly from core followers that I interact with on a daily basis. Within an hour it only had 30 likes. My normal engagement rate at this point would have been 60-90 likes. I know I’m not Kim Kardashian and smashing the likes here, but my engagement rate had halved. The post eventually got to 70 likes within a week because it was regrammed by another account. Their regram got nearly 2,000 likes.
  2. On my personal account, (@vanitysideproject) I posted a picture of a Gucci handbag that I recently bought myself. Yes, I know I’m ridiculous, but I wanted one, I am lucky enough to afford one, so I got one and it’s GORGEOUS. I posted a picture and….nada. Normally on this account I don’t smash the engagement anyway, but I’d normally get 40-70 likes per post. This one got 17, again from core followers.
Screenshot of my green Gucci Marmot handbag that only got 17 likes!

19 likes for a Gucci bag?? Imagine my disgust…

Now, on the Gucci post the hashtags were completely different, so I can only assume that because my accounts are joined by IP and also liked on the Instagram iPhone app that the disease has spread to my personal account now as well. Why am I so worried about shadowbanning? Well, it complete prevents you from growing your account, building an audience and having your content discovered by new users on Instagram. It completely counteracts the whole purpose of SOCIAL media, which is to build a community of like-minded people.

Screenshot showing that #like4like has been shadowbanned

See how it’s only showing Top Posts? This means that this hashtag has been shadowbanned

Do you think that you’ve been shadowbanned? Now, Alex Tooby is a master of Instagram, so below I’m going to paraphrase some of her advice, but go to her article on the shadowban here to read in more detail. Some easy ways to see if it might have happened are:

  1. Do a hashtag search. If you search #like4like #followme and #beautyblogger you can see that a lot of posts don’t show up. These are clearly hashtags that have been shadowbanned, so research the hashtags you normally use to ensure you’re not using any banned ones.
  2. Use this site to check if you’re shadowbanned. I’m honestly not sure how accurate it is, but it’s the best thing out there.
  3. Log in to your account and make sure that no unauthorised apps are using your account, particularly ones that post or like on your behalf. On ginandjuicing I found a completely random one logged in to my account that I don’t recall giving access to at all.
  4. The final bit of advice has been to stop using your account. Log out and leave it, for 2-3 days or a week. Don’t post, don’t like, don’t do anything. Pretty harsh no? Well, that’s what I’m going to try.
#beautyblogger is also shadowbanned

See the text at the bottom? #beautyblogger is also shadowbanned

Life without Instagram for a week will be pretty tough for me, considering I’m a social media whore, but it could be worse, at least I don’t have diphtheria, right? Maybe it will give me time to focus on actually BLOGGING, which I haven’t been doing consistently since mid-last year (cringe). I assume you all thought I was dead? Right?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and found it informative. Leave a comment and let me know if you like this kind of content, or did it go over your head? Hit the like button, give it a share and send it to your friends who also might be experiencing the agony of the shadowban!


Tiffany from G&J xx