Have you been shadowbanned? If the answer is ‘I don’t know. I have no idea what that even means’, then it hasn’t happened to you or your not a social media manager trying to explain to your client why his post cannot be found by searching the hashtag that you have used on his post and engagement and new followers have dropped off significantly.
What is shadow banning then?
To begin quite simply, Instagram uses hashtags as a method of searching for content you may like. If you are a personal trainer you may use the hashtag #fitness, and use it in every post to help those who may be looking for a trainer to be able to find your photos. Instagram may find it ‘spammy’ if you are using that same hashtag on every one of your photos and will limit the reach of your photos to only yourself and your follows. Unless someone already follows you, he or she will not see your post by searching that hashtag. That is shadowbanning in a nutshell, and it can hinder the growth and reach of your account.
Other reasons that your account could be shadowbanned include being inappropriate, abusive or utilize bots to try to comment or grow your account.
For some time Instagram had been denying the claim that they shadowbanned accounts, while users were showing real examples of how their accounts were being affected. In February of this year, however, Instagram put out a statement that they understand that users have experienced issues with the hashtag search which caused the posts to not be surfaced and that they were working on improvements.
Yesterday, Taylor Loren from Later, which is an Instagram scheduler and a company who keeps us up to date on Instagram news, published an article regarding the new Instagram algorithm update and other myths. The new updates appear to be good news for users.
The feed will be more chronological and personalized to your likes. The goal is to show more posts from your friends and family, but Instagram gets to figure out who your friends and family are. They use a formula that takes into consideration your interests, the timeliness of the post, and your ‘relationship’ with the poster. Other factors that Instagram said will have an impact on what you see include frequency, following, and usage of Instagram.
Other myth busting included the fact that Instagram does not prefer personal over business accounts when placing posts in a feed, a video is not favored over photos, and using other features such as stories and Instagram live does not help place your posts higher in the feeds either.
What was then said of shadowbanning? Instagram did not deny that it had happened, but that it was a bug in their system that caused posts which used the same hashtag to not be seen. Instagram has stated that it does not hide content based on hashtag usage.
Directly from Instagram, shadowbanning does not exist.
Myth busted – at least for now.