Recently quite a lot of Instagram profiles have been dealing with decreasing numbers of likes and comments (total engagement) under their posts. As many people are not aware of what is really going on in this case, we are here to explain if what they are dealing with is actually a shadowban. 

Shadowban – does it really exist? 

Every Instagram user should know that every now and then the Instagram algorithm is being updated, which may have an impact on his or her profile performance, especially if they run a business account or account looking as such.

Instagram is generally trying to get rid of spam, bots, and fake accounts. It’s also more strict than ever before when it comes to punishing for breaking its rules and regulations.

But let’s make it all clear from the very beginning – shadowban as such doesn’t exist.

As stated some time ago by Instagram reps, shadowban is not a real thing, however, some of the user activities might be blocked.

As we read in this article:

According to Instagram representatives, there is no practice such as e.g. hiding user posts for too many activities or using too many hashtags. However, some activities may ban your account for some time, e.g. giving a massive amount of likes or following many accounts within a short time. But the aim of it is to get rid of spam and bots (or any other activities which look as such) and banning accounts which are using such practices.

What does this all mean for users and what are its effects?

“Shadowban” means that your hashtags may not be working and as a result, your posts will not be visible to new people in the hashtag feed. One reason is that some hashtags no longer exist, as Instagram is blocking them (temporarily or permanently) because they present inappropriate content, are spammy or are marked as abusive.

Remember that even if you add few hashtags to a post and only one of them is banned, your post will not be visible under every hashtag which was used.

And most importantly, this is all happening without people knowing about it (meaning, in most cases, you’ll not be notified if you’ve done something forbidden).

The drop in comments and likes might have happened due to several reasons, such as:

  • Using blocked hashtags,
  • Using too many hashtags or hashtags which are too popular,
  • Using the same exact hashtags all the time (copy-paste under each post),
  • Using bots,
  • Buying followers, comments or likes.

What users, and creators, should also remember is the fact that now on Instagram there is a lot of content, and this amount is still growing. Even though people are stuck to their phones and spend on Instagram a crazy amount of time each day, we still have limited capabilities when it comes to the number of posts we can consume and engage with on a daily basis.

Also, as the chronological order is not coming back to Instagram, and it’s the algorithm that decides which posts we should see first, sometimes we’d have to scroll for hours to see the content from all the profiles we follow. That’s why it’s even more important than ever to create interesting, catchy and engaging content, that followers will be willing to like, comment and share. The algorithm is positioning engaging content much higher, so there is nothing better you can do than create an attractive content.

Start analyzing your Instagram performance

So how to check whether you got “shadowbanned”?

In the majority of cases, you won’t know that, as Instagram won’t notify you, if you have, for example, added banned hashtags. (In this particular case, actually, you can ask another user, ideally the one who is not following you, to check if he or she can see your post with a specific hashtag in this hashtag feed.) What you could notice though, is that some functions are limited on your account, or that your reach and engagement dropped.

That’s why it’s really important for users to get familiar with Instagram rules and regulations and follow the latest updates and changes that happen in the application.

You can also follow the Instagram profile of Adam Mosseri, who is the Head of Instagram. He’s often doing Q&As or Lives, so it’s a great source of up-to-date knowledge about Instagram.

What can you do now?

If you think that your account could have got banned, there are several steps you can try doing.

  1. Avoid repeating all the points mentioned above.
  2. Quit your account for a few days – for most users shadowban lasts for around 2-3 days and after that everything returns to the level of activity they’ve had before.
  3. If you run a business account, switch to your personal account for a while.
  4. Create your own unique hashtag – which will be relevant to the content you post. It may not be very popular but you will ensure not being shadowbanned.
  5. Try deleting some of your hashtags in the recently added posts.

How to avoid being shadowbanned in the future?

Well, mainly focus on avoiding:

  • using blocked hashtags – these may change so monitor the ones which interest you,
  • using more than 30 hashtags,
  • doing massive activities – don’t like a huge amount of posts in a very short time period and don’t unfollow (or hide) many accounts at once.

Maybe you didn’t know that but there are some limits on how often you can do specific actions on Instagram. As for August 2021, you can give up to 60 likes per hour, and up to 60 comments per hour. When it comes to following and unfollowing profiles, you can do up to 120 actions like this every hour. Keep in mind that these numbers can change.

Even if you happen to exceed these limits, your performance won’t drop, though. You can see a pop up window, like the one below, and you won’t be able to do certain actions on the platform for a while.

instagram limiting users actions
A pop up window you’ll see when doing too many actions at a time

In simple words: behave naturally, like a real person, not a bot. 

Take your time to analyze your performance

As you already know, once your posts are not showing under specific hashtags or you cannot do some activity on Instagram, your account is not suffering from shadowban. Most probably you’ve done something which is forbidden by the Instagram rules and regulations, you’ve used a banned hashtag or you were just too active on the platform in a while.

If you’re not really happy with the number of likes, comments or stories views, you should definitely analyze some basic stats, as well as some more in-depth metrics, to keep an eye on your Instagram’s performance.

Is the growth of your followers’ base stable? Or is the number of your followers decreasing? If you gained many new followers after adding each post and now you are not, most probably the latest content you added can’t be found by people.

Number of followers
Number of followers, Sotrender

Let’s move further. How does the engagement under your posts, and on your profile, look like? Has it decreased significantly? If yes, it may be a clear sign that you are “shadowbanned”.

User activities
User activities, Sotrender

A similar situation is with impressions:

Number of impressions
Number of impressions

… and reach.

Reach measured in Sotrender
Reach measured in Sotrender

If any of these 2 metrics has decreased dramatically, you should analyze the content which you have added lately, especially hashtags used in your posts. You will most probably know straight away whether you did something which could have been perceived to be suspicious. Alternatively, you might have made some changes in your Instagram marketing strategy.

Social media analytical tools, like Sotrender (where the charts presented above are from), offer a bunch of other valuable data about your Instagram performance. Insightful data and metrics about your audience, content, or engagement should be monitored regularly to analyze which activities are performing well and worth your future time and effort.

Start analyzing your Instagram performance

Best practices

Once you were blocked by Instagram, be careful. Follow some best practices to decrease the chances of being punished by Instagram again.

  • Behave naturally – forget about buying likes, comments and followers, don’t behave in a way which might indicate that you’re a bot.
  • Engage with your community – answer DMs and comments, like and comment on others’ posts.
  • Be regular so that Instagram’s algorithm can learn your behavior and predict your future actions.
  • What Instagram values lately are real interactions. When commenting, you shouldn’t only use emojis. Also, it’s better not to copy-paste comments or captions.
  • When in doubt, do less but in higher quality.


“Shadowban” may happen to any of us. Simply remember to act accordingly to Instagram’s rules and regulations but also be up-to-date with the latest news about Instagram and other social media channels, for example by visiting Sotrender’s blog. Monitor your performance regularly, with Instagram likes statistics as a starting point, so that you’ll always be ready to react.

Read more:

  1. How do I create my own hashtag on Instagram?
  2. Who will see my posts on Instagram?
  3. What is the Instagram Algorithm?