In recent months, Instagram users complained about some of their posts being “shadowbanned,” which makes them invisible when checking search results, hashtags or public pages.
The problem has been difficult to address because when an Instagram user is viewing their photos, all appears normal. Users noticed the problem when the engagement of their photos dropped as much as 2/3 the usual amount. Users reported that their photos mostly received likes from accounts already following them, indicating the hashtags they used were not providing the usual exposure. That engagement usually came from users who browse hashtags. Since only some posts have been affected, Instagram users have technically not been fully “shadowbanned” because they have not lost full visibility.
Regular users were the group less affected by this, but users who make or advertise products or services have experienced drops in business. Users with photography businesses accounts were some of the first users to notice the issue.
As reported by news.com.au, some examples of hashtags Instagram has restricted include:
An odd hashtag that has been shadowbanned is #Kansas. When users clicked on the hashtag and tried to scroll further down, instead of more photos there was a message from Instagram saying, “Recent posts from #kansas are currently hidden because the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.”
The login page of the photo sharing application Instagram as shown on an iPhone.
According to Plann, a “multi-award winning Instagram planning app,” Instagram may have shadowbanned photos if the account was using bots, repeating the same hashtags or using hashtags that were not safe for work (NSFW).
Instagram addressed users’ concerns in a post on the Instagram for Business Facebook page:
“We understand users have experienced issues with our hashtag search that caused posts to not be surfaced. When developing content, we recommend focusing on your business objective or goal rather than hashtags,” Instagram said. “Good content on Instagram is simply good creative.”
Instagram has not addressed if the issue is a glitch or an algorithm error. They have referred to the problem as “issues with our hashtag search.” Some users reported changing their business accounts back to personal accounts to solve the problem. Others said they logged into their accounts from a new device with a different IP. However, these solutions have only lasted temporarily.
If a user believed their some posts on their account were shadowbanned, this website allows users to enter their usernames and see if any of their posts were definitely affected.