NOTE! This blog post was changed in May, 2019 to include new and updated information about the shadow ban on instagram!
Hi everyone! This is set to be quite a wordy post all about the shadow ban on instagram. If that's not what you're here for and you are just keen to find the recipe for this delicious glutenfree chocolate granola, then please scroll right the way down where you'll be sure to find it. If you ARE here for lots of info on shadowbanning, then I suggest you grab a mug of green tea, curl up on the sofa and prepare yourself for a long read!
Ok, you ready? I've noticed that there have been lots of posts on instagram about shadowbanning over the last week or so. But to be honest the whole shadowbanning thing isn't that new; I have actually known about it for several weeks, thanks to this brilliant post by Sara Tasker. Though I think she says it all, things have evolved slightly since then, which is why I thought I'd give you my take on it all if I may...
What is shadow banning?
It is the term used to describe how a person’s post becomes invisible to anyone other than the people already following them. Posts don’t appear under the hashtag grid used either and consequently, it becomes impossible for the person to grow their audience. For example, prior to being shadowbanned, if you tagged one of your images on instagram with #vegan, your image would appear in the #vegan grid. This meant that people interested in vegan food could easily discover your account if they looked at the #vegan grid. You can see what an important tool hashtags and hashtag grids are in order to drive traffic to your instagram profile; it's the best way to get new followers. It's also a great way to engage and connect with your preferred audience and with like-minded individuals.
Now the sneaky thing with a shadowban is, that if the affected users check to see if their image appears under the #vegan grid, it will be visible to them and everything will seem totally normal. However, if someone that doesn't follow them and hasn't discovered them yet looks at the #vegan grid, their image won’t be there. Freaky right? The result is a massive drop in likes, comments, new followers and general engagement.
Why is this happening?
Initially there was a sense that people whose behaviour was not in line with instagram rules were being penalized and that in the process, rather accidentally, innocent accounts were being affected too.
So what type of behaviour am I talking about here? Well, stuff like
using automated bots to comment on or like other accounts,
using the same hashtags every single day (which looks spammy from instagram's perspective)
using banned hashtags like #followforfollow
using dodgy follow/unfollow practices.
There was a cryptic message from instagram at some point that they were aware that there were teething problems with the hashtag system and that they were working on resolving it. Some people speculated that perhaps there was a bug of some sorts and/or that instagram just couldn't cope with the large amount of users overloading their app; shadowbanning was their way of (temporarily) managing this influx of data. None of it fully convinced me, I have to say.
UPDATE - MAY 2019! Instagram finally made a statement (you can read it summarised here) admitting that the shadowban is real! They explained that if you follow an account whose content has been deemed ‘inappropriate’ you will still see it, but that said content will not be visible in the explore tab or under hashtags and thereby not available to the wider community.
Though in the statement made, it seems that instagram are focusing the shadow ban predominantly on ‘sexually inappropriate’ content, they use the term ‘problematic’ and ‘inappropriate’ more generally too, meaning there’s a chance that any kind of content could be affected.
Moreover, how can instagram really ensure that everything they deem to be inappropriate is indeed, well, inappropriate? They can’t! Mistakes will be made, innocent accounts will be affected, which would echo what community members have been saying for years: That they were shadow banned without going against community guidelines!
So what can you do about it?
UPDATE! This blog post here is rather helpful and I suggest your read through it if you’ve been affected by the shadow ban. But in short…
take a break from instagram to allow systems to ‘reset’. From 48 hours to two weeks seems to do the trick
get in touch with instagram if matters haven’t been resolved after your IG break
ensure you’re not using hashtags that instagram has deemed ‘inappropriate’ (google the term banned hashtags to find a list ;))
UPDATE! Please don’t freak out ;), just because you notice a drop in engagement, likes or audience growth, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve been shadowbanned. Instead, remember that instagram algorithms are constantly changing and a drop in reach and engagement is actually pretty common the longer you’re on the platform. If you’re following community guidelines (and seeing you’re reading this, my guess is you’re on instagram to share a pic of your food - VERY appropriate content ;)), I’m confident that things should rectify themselves pretty quickly, especially after a short IG detox! But, do keep looking out for updates and announcements as I suspect more information about what instagram deems ‘inappropriate’ will trickle through over the coming months.
Thanks everyone for reading this blog post. I'd love to hear your thoughts, concerns, questions and comments below :). Also, rather than returning in 2 weeks, I'll actually already be back next week with a delicious recipe. See you then!
VEGAN GRAIN-FREE CHOCOLATE GRANOLA (V+, ChF, GF, GrF,P)
This granola is not only completely vegan but also glutenfree, grainfree, refined sugar free and paleo! Despite all that it's totally delicious! I hope you enjoy it :).
Preparation Time: 15-20 minutes
Baking Time: 4 hours
Makes: a large jar of granola
1/2cup/70g pumpkin seeds
1/2cup/50g sunflower seeds
1/3cup/50g Brazil nuts
1/3cup/65g cashew nuts
2tbs chia seeds
2cups/75g desiccated coconut
5tbs coconut oil
1cup/240ml maple syrup
1tbs vanilla extract
5tbs cacao powder
Preheat the oven to 100C/210F.
Place the nuts in a food processor and pulse briefly ensuring the nuts are slightly broken down but still chunky. Remove the nuts from the food processor, lace in a large bowl and add in the seeds and desiccated coconut. Set aside.
Over a low heat in a saucepan, gently combine the coconut oil and maple syrup, stirring continuously. Then add the cacao powder along with the vanilla, briefly stir until combined.
Next pour this chocolate mixture over the nuts and seeds, mix until everything is nicely combined and all the nuts and seeds are covered with chocolate.
Put the chocolate nut mixture on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake at 100C/210F for about 4 hours or until crisp and dry.
Once done, remove and let the granola cool before serving.
Tip1: You can use different nuts of course! Please take these as suggestions.
Serve with...home-made almond milk. YUM!