that time I was shadowbanned
UPDATES (4/16 and 4/23) at the bottom.
Well that time is now but one day it will be in the past. Unfortunately I am living in the present and it sucks, I have barely posted and I am just trying to get through it. While I wait I figured I would write a little post about it, to be updated when I am back in action.
Let me start with the facts, or lack there of. What is shadowbanning? Who does it happen to? How do I know? Well the truth is that Instagram hasn’t released much information so we don’t know all that much, but in this case I DO KNOW what happened to me. But let me start with what we do know. According to Wikipedia –
Shadow banning (also called stealth banning, ghost banning or comment ghosting) is the act of blocking a user or their content from an online community such that the user does not realize that they have been banned.
By making a user’s contributions invisible or less prominent to other members of the service, the hope is that in the absence of reactions to their comments, the problematic user will become bored or frustrated and leave the site.
Specifically an instagram shadowban means that your images will not show up in hashtags for anyone except for your followers and you won’t appear on the explore page. These means that you will have a drop in likes and comments and won’t get any new followers. Basically it feels like a punishment and it isn’t any fun! How long does it last? Well that depends, for some people it last 48 hours and others apparently weeks (lets all please hope that won’t be me, gulp!) How do you know that you are shadowbanned? Well you can add an obscure hashtag or create your own and ask an account that doesn’t follow you (or a friend to temporarily unfollow you) to see if they can see your image in the hashtag, if they can’t then you’ve been banned.
So what happened to me?? Well this past Sunday night I was giving my ONE YEAR OLD daughter and her one year old friend a bath and snapped a picture of their butts and put it in stories. I thought it was innocent and cute but clearly that was not the opinion of everyone. My assumption is that it was reported and a few hours later I received a message “Your Post Has Been Removed” and incase I wondered why it adds “We removed it because it doesn’t follow our Community Guidelines.”
(incase you have any doubts, you can see that it is the same post from the color tones)
So I realized the following day that I had been shadowbanned, and possibly worse, because I myself couldn’t even see my images in hashtags. I take a weekly picture of my daughter on a chair and went in to Instagram to click on my hashtag and see the outfits she had been in the weeks prior. Something I often do when trying to decide what I will put on her for the new image. My images just weren’t in the tag. So I checked my matching on the mattress pictures and again nothing, only my images that had been reposted by someone else. I quickly realized that my images weren’t showing up in any hashtags.
(on the left you can see how my hashtag for chair pictures appears now and on the right what you get if you click the “Learn More” from the left)
So that is what happened to me. It isn’t always so obvious or cut and dry. Some people unknowingly use banned hashtags and they get shadowbanned from it. Others appear to be bots by using the same hashtags on every image or writing the same comment over and over and they get shadowbanned. And I am sure that there are other things we don’t even know of that can cause it. Which leads me to another point which is why the F won’t they just tell us so we don’t do it. I feel like I am a grounded teenager who really wants to join all her friends at the party and isn’t allowed. I LOVE to participate in the WHP for example and have been doing it for years and if this weekend is a fun theme and my image doesn’t have a chance to be seen it would be super disappointing!!
Also I just want to post again! I began reading everything I could to try and learn how to get this shadowban lifted and it appears that not posting or engaging much helps. Of course we don’t really know if that matters since Instagram won’t tell us, but it makes sense and goes all the way back to the Wikipedia definition. Maybe I will pretend to be bored and leave the site long enough that they will lift my ban! Please please!
I would write a formal apology if it would help! HA! Stay tuned for an update on this post when I get the banned lifted, or another frustrated rant if in a few days I am still waiting!
UPDATE : 16 April 2018
So it has officially been over a week. I don’t know why I thought that one week would be the time it was lifted, as if a computer knew and would just automatically change my account back to OK. But then I started thinking, I don’t even know if it’s a human or a computer that is making this decision and I begin to get more and more frustrated at the lack of information out there. I have read so much, from people saying it last 48 hours to 1 week to 3 or more. Oh goodness I hope it isn’t more than 3 weeks.
Why do I care? Well for a few reasons. For one, as an artist I believe that it’s the audience that gives your work life, their reactions to it – positive, negative, joyed, disturbed, etc – and their conversations. So suppressing the reach is like suppressing the life of the piece. And secondly, as a business woman, and someone newly in the influencer world having reach for my work allows the things I plan to promote get seen. And thirdly, as a person it just sucks to feel like I am an outlaw! I hate doing things wrong, and honestly would never on purpose. I am one of those people who says I am sorry if I drop my own pencil, so being on the bad girl list isn’t boding well for me on a personal level!
I wish I knew what it was that I should do. I went for a few days without even trying to log back into Instagram until yesterday. When I did I was able to get in, phew, but the ban was still there. I can’t even see my own images in my personal hashtags let alone any others. But staying off hasn’t seemed to help so I am going to just go back to being me. Acting normal and posting as I was before, minus the baby butts in stories of course! Hopefully next update this will all be over, fingers crossed!
UPDATE : 23 April 2018
The ban has lifted, 2 weeks (down to the minute) of when my image had been removed. So it seems that it is computer generated (most likely after a complaint had come in) and I was basically in a two week time-out, or Instajail as I have been calling it. About half way through my punishment Sara Tasker reached out and told me that she was sure that it would be two weeks and that I shouldn’t worry. It definitely eased my mind knowing that and I held on to faith that it would be my truth. SO happy that it was. She suggested some other ideas that she had heard worked to remove a ban, one being paying to promote posts. I tried three different posts, one promoting myself and the other two promoting brands that I had worked with. I spent $100 overall and in the end it didn’t help lift my ban. I note this incase anyone else wonders. It is possible that if you are banned for a different reason (like maybe using bad hashtags) that is would work, I don’t know, but for an image removal two week ban like I had it doesn’t seem to do anything. Sara also wrote a wonderful post on everything she knows about Shandowbans you that can read HERE if you are interested!
My engagement wasn’t great over the last two weeks but I have to say that the outpouring of support and love that my followers gave me was humbling. I am so thankful for the relationships I’ve built and the community at large! Thank you!