Artists and Illustrators on Instagram and the shadowban

Last Updated on May 30, 2023 by Matt Hawthorne

What is the Shadowban? and what does it mean for instagram artists and illustrators

This is my first blog in a long time. Apologies.

As you may know I make handmade bespoke mechanical pencils to order for architects, illustrators and artists from all over the world.

My business depends on people being able to find me online, and whether that is primarily by word of mouth or a social platform like Instagram, it matters that I can be found – as simple as that.

I say instagram as an example because Instagram seems to be the big hitter at the moment and a lot of you instagram illustrators have been affected by the dreaded shadowban it seems lately. For all you affected illustrators on Instagram – a shadowban is where Instagram decides that what you are posting infringes on their guidelines in some way and many of your posts are pulled from the hashtag search. This means you lose engagement and you get fewer likes and fewer new followers and your account seems to frustratingly stagnate.

Now, this is something that Instagram have never owned up to actually doing. They have said that there have been some issues with hashtags not showing up in searches, but that these were glitches that they were working on. I personally do not believe this to be true.

What to do to test if you really have been shadowbanned?


The first thing to do is to ask several friends to unfollow you and check for a recent post of your’s in a hashtag search (Pick a hashtag from your post that has a low engagement so that your post won’t have been swallowed up by several other thousand posts since you posted yours) If they cannot see your post in the hashtag search then this would suggest that you are experiencing something that many are calling a “Shadowban”.

What can you do to fix a shadowban?

Well, as the shadowban isn’t a thing according to Instagram, it is hard to know exactly what causes it and why Instagram should want to pull your posts and prevent a wider audience of people seeing them. We could start with their guidelines to begin with

Here is the link to the Instagram’s guidelines

Here’s what I believe to be the short of it…

Instagram want you to be the following:

Respectful of others

These are the laws that I now live by when using Instagram and I hope a little in the real world too. They are not profound at all.

What to do…


I would first look though your recent posts for any hashtags that could be banned hashtags and delete them. I know this sounds odd as you are probably already careful of the hashtags you post. There are some pretty innocuous hashtags that have surprisingly been banned such as #desk, #curvy and #beautyblogger. The reason these seemingly harmless hashtags have been removed is because the feeds have been heavily spammed or contain indecent images on a regular basis for whatever reason that may be. Hence why these hashtags have begun to
get a bad name and Instagram’s algorithm clumps you amongst those who may be posting the offending posts just because you have included that banned hashtag.

Another thing to do is lay low for a couple of days, You may have been over excitingly exceeding the rate of likes per hour and commenting with too high a frequency that Instagram thought you may be a bot. Avoid any engagement that may be interpreted by Instagram as bot behavior. The way I do this is to consciously slow down my rate of comments and liking and only writing comments that absolutely show that you are specifically commenting picture’s contents and not slapping a “That’s great” comment on someone’s boring picture of a paving stone.

Next is to go to your desktop version (not the app) and go to “settings” then go to “authorised apps”. In there will be all the third party apps that Instagram probably frown upon you using. The likes of apps that slap bots on your account and follow unfollow apps too. These apps could be the reason you are shadowbanned. Remove all the permissions and Instagram will surely reward you for playing fair. There will be some permissions there that you will have no idea were there and it may surprise you.

Post your hashtags in the post and not in the first comment. Lately there has been a loophole letting people add many more hashtags than the allowed 30. If you are trying to cheat the system at all, Instagram will find out -its only a matter of time before they do – and they could and possibly will penalise you for it.

The last thing I can really say is never use other apps that make it easier for you, because there will be consequences. Instgram won’t want apps running bots falsly engaging with your community. You have to have in mind what you would do if you owned Instagram, what is their goal and howcan they increase the value of instagram as a business…The only real answer to that question is to make it more authentic. Making sure everyone is writing what they write, liking what they like themselves can ensure genuine engagement of a community and that is where the real value of the company lies. Make sure you keep to the rules and be authentic and you will surely be rewarded for your efforts. We hope.

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