The Instagram Shadow Ban

Instagram has been an amazing platform for many to voice their creativity, personality and to share snippets of their lives. That is exactly what I started to use it for, sharing my travels and my love for photography. Although the Instagram app is forever changing and improving there is still a ‘taboo’ problem that nobody seems to want to speak aloud about.

In the midst of these changes some people have really been affected. Life as a creative can be hard at the best of times; trying to make money from art, whether that art is in the form of fashion, paintings and drawings, photography, writing, music or the hundreds of other ways people enjoy to express themselves is a difficult path to take.  Getting people to notice you, marketing your talent and making a living from it is hard work.

So this is where I began to have a problem with Instagram and how it seemed to be turning it’s back on the people still trying to work hard to make a living.

It’s apparently called, Shadow Banning.

What is this? No idea really and I’m not sure that it is an actual real word but it basically means that somehow, someone has made you invisible to the rest of the Instagram world. So all those hours you spent creating images, the endless hours editing, creating a pleasing gallery and engaging with fellow creatives all of a sudden means nothing.

It first happened to me a few months ago and I noticed it straight away, my followers had stopped completely. From waking up to over a 100 followers every day, I woke up to 5 or less, my hashtags stopped working and my photos were invisible to everyone who wasn’t following me and even the people who were following me, Instagram had made me as invisible as possible to them too.

All that hard work, GONE.

I googled it and of course, Instagram had no information about any such thing and there is no way you can get in touch with them. So I read blog posts and found that so many other people were being affected for no reason.

Reasons to be ‘Shadow Banned’

  • Abuse of hashtags (this includes hiding hashtags in the comment section)
  • Use of commenting/liking apps
  • Over use of the app (going crazy and liking hundreds of photos at once)
  • Showing signs of non-genuine, robotic behaviour
  • Buying followers/likes
  • Participating in comment pods

I NEVER bought followers/likes, I never used any apps, I don’t think I ever abused hashtags (I always used between 10-15 tags) and I never over used the app. It’s been nearly 5 months since this happened and my Instagram has plummeted, I have lost over 400 followers in just this past week. Although Instagram has made a statement that they are cracking down on fake profiles, which could see bloggers and influencers see a big decline in their following this week, this still doesn’t explain how my engagement has fallen so drastically overnight and has continued to stay low for so long.

How to lift a ‘Shadow Ban’

  • Sign out of Instagram and be inactive for at least 48 hours if not longer
  • Delete hashtags from previous photos
  • Delete any apps that may be against their rules and regulations

In my case, I am no longer banned (as far as I am aware) but my Instagram has suffered so much that I am unsure there is any way of ever bringing it back to life. Of course I will still share my travels, photography and story with or without an audience to follow me and I am beyond thankful for the 20k+ that are still following my journey.

But be careful how you play the Instagram ‘game’ as it seems that some accounts are favoured over others and some can just be deleted without a thought behind it. Be genuine, be smart but more importantly, carry on creating.

Have you been affected?

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