The Instagram Hashtag Problem


Did you know you could be using banned or limited hashtags without knowing it? Instagram has recently updated it’s algorithm (again…) and with that has limited our use of hashtags… not to mention they’ve also banned over 60,000 hashtags with no warning! The ban, also known as “The Instagram Shadowban,” means that using banned hashtags will make your post become ‘un-discoverable’ and place a temporary “shadowban” on your account that will affect future posts until Instagram releases the ban. This has been said to last anywhere from 24 hours to several weeks. Using just one banned hashtag could cause your posts to only be displayed to your followers (and not on hashtag feeds), and therefore will drastically reduce your engagement and number of likes.

Hashtags are a way to have your post available for others (who aren’t followers) to see under that hashtag feed. Part of the Instagram update is that they are being more careful with hashtags and how they show up in your feed. They are cleaning up the hashtags that are overpopulated with spam and non-quality content. Users have used random hashtags to ‘sneak’ their inappropriate content onto irrelevant, high density hashtag feeds. Not being aware of banned hashtags might jeopardize your engagements and make it difficult to reach a new audience.

A shadowban on your account could also be caused by the use of bots and automated services to like and comment on your behalf. If Instagram has any suspicion that your account is spamming others, you might be shadowbanned. Using the same set of hashtags over and over, using broken hashtags, or even going on following sprees might put your account at risk. To reduce this risk, make sure to search and check your hashtags every time you post and avoid using automated bots.

So if you are curious as to why your engagement has been low lately, do some research on your hashtags! Some banned hashtags may be obvious such as #naughty and #booty but there are many every day hashtags that you could still be using like #beautyblogger or even #boho that are banned! To check on your hashtags, go to that hashtag feed, and see if the feed includes a “Most Recent” Posts section. If not… step away from that hashtag because it is banned! Banned hashtags now only show the “Top Posts” instead of showing ALL recent posts made. This is why unless you have a gazillion followers with a fantastic engagement… you probably won’t make it to that Top Posts section (just sayin’.)

SO, to recap…

  • Search your hashtags

  • Use local and more specific hashtags

  • Do not use automated bots

  • Make sure your hashtags show up on feeds like this, with that "Most Recent" section:



  • And not like this… with NO "Most Recent" section :(

“Recent posts from #BANNEDHASHTAG are currently hidden because the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.”


If you have been using any affected hashtags, your account may in trouble and you could potentially be blocked. We recommend to search your hashtags before you use them and use more local and community-specific hashtags.

If you have any questions about Instagram or any social media platforms, feel free to ask! We love answering your questions.