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Am I shadowbanned on Instagram? Here’s how to tell and what to do

By Helena Kate Whittingham

Dec 2, 2020

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Why is my Instagram account shadowbanned?

The four ‘official’ reasons your Instagram account might have been shadowbanned:

1. Your account is continually being reported.

2. You are using software that violates Instagram’s Terms of Service, such as buying fake followers or auto-posting websites (Buffer is fine). You can use this link to see how to remove third party posters from your account.

3. You are exceeding your daily/hourly limits of engagement. Depending on the age of your account you receive 150 likes, 60 comments, and 60 follow or unfollow per hour.

4. You are using a broken or abused hashtag. Even innocent hashtags such as #besties can, and have become overrun with ‘offensive’ material. Instagram will ban or limit broken hashtags. So, if you use it, you will get shadowbanned. Here is a list of all banned hashtags you should avoid in 2021.

You can also check whether you’ve actually been shadowbanned on the app by going through those 3 simple steps.

What does shadowbanned mean?

Shadowbanningalso called stealth banning, ghost banning or comment ghostingis the act of blocking or partially blocking a user or their content from an online community. Anyone who gets shadowbanned will not be told that they are, and most users will only realise it after a while. Signifiers include a noticeable dip in likes on new posts, or someone else notifying they are unable to tag or search the shadowbanned account.

Shadowbanning has been recorded on various internet platforms since the 80s, but it only started appearing on Instagram in 2017. Instagram explained that the ban is intentionally coded and that it aims to stop bots, spammers, as well as protect younger users from being exposed to ‘sensitive’ material. With around 1 billion users, it’s impossible for Instagram to monitor all its content manually, so specific topics have been classified as triggering.

Because of Instagram’s regular changes to its algorithm, these triggers are hard to keep tabs on. That’s why, in the same way banks might block your bank account as soon as they see fraudulent behaviour on it, Instagram shadowbans an account as soon as it deems it contains triggering content. However, as many people have witnessed in the last few months, the ban can sometimes block some accounts that don’t seem to be violating any terms. The question is, what does Instagram really qualifies as ‘triggering content’, and what can be done to avoid getting shadowbanned?

When Instagram started its trial to remove likes last year (mostly in the US at first), the social media platform also asked for a push in ‘authenticity’, and yet, there seemed to be a rising number of accounts deletion and censorship at that time. What I had noticed myself on my Instagram feed had then been confirmed by journalist Chanté Joseph in an article for The Guardian, which highlighted how the platform was, and still is, shadowbanning creative accounts, and queer-inclined ones more specifically.

London’s party and DJ collective Pxssy Palace has been one of the many accounts affected by the 2019 shadowban. Screen Shot spoke with them about it, “There is no denying that the algorithm is targeting specific groups as we can all see it for ourselves. Not being able to search people’s accounts under the ban, not seeing posts from people in months and the list is continuously growing. The fact is that racist posts have been left on feeds as they ‘do not break any of the community guidelines’ and it’s wack, as we have people’s accounts being taken down left, right, and centre for calling out these racist, homophobic individuals.”

Talking about how long exactly this has been going on, the collective added, “This has been going on for a while now, it’s been BPOCs who have been heavily targeted for also speaking out time and time again. The algorithm will never favour us and Instagram denying time and time again that it doesn’t shadowban is beyond frustrating now. It’s also frustrating how much we have been relying on this platform to connect with our community and inform them about events, so we are beginning to foster community offline and in other methods such as mailing lists and WhatsApp groups.”

As Pxssy Palace highlighted, this shadowban is particularly distressing to queer accounts, which actually rely on the social media platform to promote and sell tickets for events. As trivial as it might seem, the ban largely affects the LGBTQ community. “We shouldn’t have been relying on Instagram as the only method [for promotion], however, it was a really great tool. The internet could turn off tomorrow and we would have no idea of what’s going to happen—it’s a wake-up call to make sure we are fostering offline communities, so we are protected. At the moment, Instagram is directly affecting ticket sales, and therefore the livelihood of QTIPOC who work with us regularly,” shared Nadine Ahmad with Screen Shot.

The Instagram shadowban supposedly lasts for 14 days, although many users claim that they have been shadowbanned for several weeks, and sometimes even months. 

10 tips to get un-shadowbanned

So, if you think you have been shadowbanned too, here are 10 tips to get rid of that nasty shadowban:

1. Detox

Apparently, some people say that a two-day silence helps remove the ban. After that, feel free to keep on engaging, chatting, and using the platform as usual.

2. Hashtag no more

Delete hashtags from your recent posts, as some of these might be blocked or banned. Additionally, place your hashtags in the caption of your posts, not in the comments section, and don’t go overboard with hashtags. Never go near the maximum number of hashtags (30), and never repeat hashtags.

3. Keep it similar

Don’t make sudden changes to your user info, bio, email address during this period. Avoid any mass liking, mass commenting, following or unfollowing spree.

4. Report

Contact Instagram and tell the company that your posts aren’t showing up in hashtag searches, but don’t tell them you’ve been shadowbanned.

5. Pics and vids

Currently, the algorithm favours videos, and imagery over text, especially for sponsored posts.

6. Sock it

Create a backup account, also known as a ‘sock’.

7. Male only

Try switching your profile to Male as @dyelindsey reports.

8. No third party

Check on Instagram which third-party applications you’ve given permission to, and delete as many as possible.

9. C*nsor your language

Use censored language, such as ‘s*x’, and acronyms.

10. No spam

Avoid engaging in any spam-like behaviour, such as mass liking, leaving short, duplicate comments, or regularly using keywords that are likely to flag as questionable.

In the meantime, let’s hope that the tips above help you prepare for the next shadow ban. If you think your account is somehow still getting censored for one reason or another, here’s my last trick that I originally found on the app itself. When you post some new content on Instagram, make sure you and your followers first save the post before liking and sharing it—the more, the better apparently. Good luck!

Am I shadowbanned on Instagram? Here’s how to tell and what to do


By Helena Kate Whittingham

Dec 2, 2020

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How to get verified on Instagram: 3 steps and extra tips

By Alma Fabiani

Nov 23, 2020

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You must have heard of, or seen the blue verification tick on Instagram, that little sign that proves someone’s authority and influence while increasing their reputation at the same time. Before influencers were a thing, only big celebrities like Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian had the right to that tick. Now, brands prefer social media influencers with more of an organic audience, a specific reach, as well as that verification next to their handle. But what exactly does it mean to be verified on Instagram, and can anyone get that blue tick? Here are 3 simple steps to follow in order to get your account verified.

What does getting verified on Instagram mean?

According to Instagram, a verified badge is “a check that appears next to an Instagram account’s name in search and on the profile. It means Instagram has confirmed that an account is the authentic presence of the public figure, celebrity or global brand it represents.”

That blue check helps people avoid ‘imposter’ accounts, meaning it helps them find the brands or profiles they actually want to follow. It also appears in your search bar as well as on your profile and in the comments section.

For example, the blue tick could help you differentiate a celebrity account from a celebrity’s fan account. Same applies for brands, having a verified Instagram account can help avoid any knock-offs from stealing your followers and customers.

First and foremost, however, the blue check is almost a status symbol.

Can I get verified on Instagram if I am not famous?

Although the social media platform likes to present the blue tick as a rare commodity created for superstars and media giants only, it has now become easier for smaller accounts to get verified. Speaking to Screen Shot, Mai Raunstrup Laursen, campaign coordinator at Brandheroes explained: “It seems like it has become way easier to get the tick. I see people ranging from 2,000 to 2 million followers getting verified.”

In other words, if you’re looking to get verified on Instagram but your name is not Lady Gaga or you don’t own Bloomberg, don’t give up just yet. You can apply for an Instagram verification with either a personal account or a business account, on the condition that Instagram deems you ‘eligible’.

What do I need to be eligible for an Instagram verification?

After all, getting verified would be too easy if Instagram didn’t ask for a certain number of things before even looking at your application. Instagram verification is reserved for accounts that are “notable”, “in the public interest” and “have a high likelihood of being impersonated.” Yet, more and more people are receiving the check, so why not you?

First things first, you must adhere to Instagram’s ‘Terms of Service’ and ‘Community Guidelines’. Once you’re all done with those, according to Instagram’s website your account must also be:

Authentic: Your account must represent a real person, registered business or entity.

Unique: Your account must be the unique presence of the person or business it represents. Only one account per person or business may be verified, with exceptions for language-specific accounts. Fan or meme accounts are technically not supposed to be eligible, yet profiles like @doggosdoingthings sometimes can get verified.

Complete: Your account must be public and have a bio, profile photo and at least one post. Your profile can’t contain “add me” links to other social media services.

Notable: Your account must represent a well-known, highly searched for person, brand or entity. We review accounts that are featured in multiple news sources, and we don’t consider paid or promotional content as sources for review.

It is important to note that while already having a verification on Facebook will not help you in any way during your application for the blue check on Instagram, having one on Twitter might as it is based on similar criteria.

Getting verified on Facebook is easier as the platform grants verification to small businesses and organisations.

How can I apply to get verified on Instagram?

While the criteria for eligibility shown above seem quite strict and, let’s be honest here, boringly tedious, applying to get verified on Instagram only takes a few steps—three main steps to be more precise.

1) Log in: Go on your Instagram app and make sure you’re logged into the account you want to verify if you have more than one Instagram account. Make sure you have a public Instagram account as private accounts are not eligible for the verification.

2) Request your verification: To do so is simple. Click on the three-lined Menu icon in the right corner of your profile (yes, that hamburger icon) and then click on the Settings gear icon at the top of your options. Once on your Settings, click on Account followed by Request verification, which will then take you to the form you’ll have to fill in for your application.

3) Confirm your identity: On this form, you will be asked to write your Instagram’s username, your full name, as it appears on your government-issued identification, and what you are ‘known as’, which means your name or the name of your company. To make it simpler, use the name that people generally know you as. If you usually go by a nickname for example, enter that information here. If you have a company and your Instagram account is mostly known under the company’s name, then write it under there.

Then, you’ll want to pick a category. You can choose from news/media, sports, government/politics, music, fashion, entertainment, blogger/influencer, business/brand/organisation, or other. Simply pick the one that aligns the most with your brand.

Last but not least, you will need to upload a copy of your government-issued photo ID or an official business document. For a personal account, you can use a driver’s license, a passport, or a government-issued identity card. For a business account, you could use a tax return, a utility bill in your company’s name, or your articles of incorporation. Make sure the name on your document matches the name you entered above and that your picture is as clear as can be so that Instagram can read your name and see your picture.

Once this is done, press send and wait for Instagram to review your application for verification. Among other factors, it will be looking at “the authenticity, uniqueness, completeness and notability” of your profile.

After reviewing your application, Instagram will notify you as to whether your request is approved or denied. You’ll receive the message in your Instagram notifications but don’t expect a response right away. While there isn’t any specified timeline for how long the verification takes, it generally takes at least a couple of days.

And don’t forget, Instagram would never ask you to pay for the blue tick and they will not send you an email asking about your verification request. If you get a request to pay or an email asking for more details, you’re being scammed!

What should I do after I’ve sent my verification request?

Because submitting a request for verification does not guarantee that your account will be verified, you will need to do everything you can to improve your chances of getting the blue check.

First of all, Instagram will look at whether your profile is completely filled or not. This means that you should make sure you complete all of the Instagram fields with accurate and relevant information about yourself or your business.

Secondly, do not try to lie about any information you’ve shared with Instagram. Use your real name, pick an accurate category for your account and use a real document to prove your identity. It goes without saying that if you fail to do that, Instagram won’t verify your account. Instagram specifically says, “If you provide false or misleading information during the verification process, we will remove your verified badge and may take additional action to delete your account.”

Thirdly, although we mentioned Facebook’s verification previously and how different it is compared to Instagram’s own, having a presence outside of Instagram can help your application. The logic behind this is that even if you have a lot of Instagram followers, it’s hard to prove that you’re “notable” if you don’t have any presence outside of the app.

In other words, if Instagram staffers search your name on Google during the verification review process, it would be best if they found other websites and apps that mention your name. For that, make sure your website is optimised to appear in top search results. To grow your online presence, you could consider guest posting on other blogs or sites, especially if they are well-known and respected in your niche.

That being said, do not cross-promote your other social accounts in your Instagram bio and don’t use your bio to ask people to follow you elsewhere. As stated by Instagram, profiles that “contain ‘add me’ links to other social channels” will not be approved.

Then, in order to both grow your online presence and increase your chances of coming up first in search results, try reaching out to multiple news sources so they can write about you or your brand. You can either send a press release to bigger media companies or contact smaller, more local publications if you’ve never been in the news before. Remember that paid or promotional content doesn’t count. Once you start getting mentioned by different news platforms, link all these articles in a ‘press’ section on your website or even as a highlighted Instagram Story. If you’re not sure when to start, look up journalists that are already writing about other Instagram accounts and send them a DM or an email asking them if they could potentially be interested in covering your own Instagram account.

Post regularly. Technically, you need to have at least one post to be considered for verification. But realistically, you should not apply until you have a stronger Instagram presence. For example, if your account has been inactive for a few weeks, you won’t be considered a great candidate for the Instagram verification. To boost your chances, make sure to post new content regularly and to interact with other accounts.

Having an important amount of followers always helps, even though there is no longer a set number of required followers to get verified on Instagram. However, having more followers is a pretty good indicator of noteworthiness. Furthermore, Instagram looks at how likely you are to be impersonated. Someone is probably more likely to impersonate an account with many followers. That’s why having a large number of followers makes it more likely for Instagram to give you the verification badge.

Just remember that, no matter how many followers you have, don’t buy fake followers as this would seriously impact your application. Instagram will notice that you bought fake followers and therefore will not give you the blue tick.

Once you’ve gone through all those steps, all you have to do is wait. Your application might not be approved on the first try but don’t get discouraged by it, take the time to improve your profile and grow your audience, then feel free to apply again! You can reapply 30 days after your first request is denied.

Keep in mind that, while the verification process looks quite simple and short, Instagram has a very strict set of rules that it follows when looking at your application. If you don’t meet some of the less obvious criteria, then you will be denied. You will receive a notification in your notifications tab.

We’ve mentioned it above but we will repeat for those at the back: do not use a third-party service to apply for the verification check. Instagram specifically says not to try to verify your account through a third party as there are plenty of scammers out there who will try to sell you Instagram verification. Read about it here but don’t fall for it.

If you end up with a successful application that results in your Instagram account receiving the blue check, remember that you can lose it as quickly as you received it. Continue to follow Instagram’s terms of service and community guidelines and never sell your badge, or use your profile picture, bio, or Instagram name to promote other services.

 

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