The shadowban experiment. It seems to be real.


A shadow ban!? Yeah right. My skeptical mind could not take the new term brought to me by screaming Instagram fanatics who didn’t understand their engagement drop or what the term algorithm even means.
The socalled shadowban means that pictures that have certain hashtags like “princess” aren’t being displayed in the search results when searching for these hashtags.
Why? There are many speculations about why Instagram does this. Some say it’s a coding problem, some suggest that those who are shadowbanned spam too much or break the Instagram guidelines. Other say it’s a myth and Instagram stays somewhat silenced about it.
I believed for a long time that a shadow ban was an unresolved bug from Instagram. With such a massive growth and so many code alterations, ofcourse a little bit of “old” code might cause a small glitch.

I’m an unhealthy Instagram addict myself and while setting up several types of experiments, I did not expect to find actual proof of the existence of the shadowban!

The experiment.
Do you know Gramblr.com? It’s a platform that lets you post a picture via your laptop. This is actually illegal because Instagram doesn’t allow this in their rules. However, Gramblr is still offering this service and more. They also have a ‘like engagement’ type platform. It work in a ‘I scratch your back and you scratch mine’ type of way. And it seems this platform is used massively! Want 50 likes? Enter your picture and other Instagrammers who use Gramblr will like it. Ofcourse you can also buy likes if you’re lazy.

The fun thing about Gramblr is that you can see who else craves online likes. Next to the picture the Instagram username is displayed and with one click, Gramblr redirects you towards the instapage. I’ve clicked on many usernames and these are not your average unknows accounts. Verified badge accounts, bloggers with 300K followers that work together with Cartier and Chanel. Artists, photographers, rising stars, people I admire(d). It came to me as a shock. I was so naïve about social media that I did not believe so many people would fake it.

Facebook knows people
Instagress, Massplanner, Archie, Fanharverst, Noworriesbot… they all had to shut their doors (THANK YOU INSTAGRAM!). There are still some sites left but they have already been flagged by Facebook.
Huh? Yes.. just try sending your friends a Facebook message on messenger saying instazood.com or gramblr.com.. Tadaa! Surprise, Facebook knows about these websites and won’t allow you to share these websites on their platform. It’s a warning, if you are a cheat you know you’ll be punished eventually.

They have all been shadowbanned.
Needless to say, the accounts who are faking it pretty bad have a shadow ban.
I used https://shadowban.azurewebsites.net/ to enter every account.
All of them, no soul is left behind. Instagram isn’t even that evil, some of the hashtags weren’t banned and I have no idea why. Unfortunately these accounts aren’t banned for real and thus these accounts are still able to grow. Tricking everyone their growth and engagement is real.

Not everybody is getting banned.
Instagram bans people who are faking it pretty bad, but the little “fakings” seem to be tolerated.
I used my own pictures but didn’t receive a ban, also other girls I looked up weren’t banned. I believe there is a restriction rule. Above a certain number you’ll receive a shadowban otherwise Instagram is looking the other way?

Facebook also punishes the follow-unfollow crowd.
We know them… the type of girls who have become obsessive with the ‘follow-unfollow’ ritual online. And as they can be easily spotted with online tools, monitoring their behavior is a piece of cake. I’m talking about the girls who start following 500 people on a daily base and unfollow them again the next days. A big hurray again, because as far as my knowledge goes on the Dutch girls who do this, Instagram seems to shadowban many of them also!

Now that we know this, what can we do about it?
Are you a brand! Great news, there are already several tools out there to filter the fake ‘influencers.’ This is yet another tool to find the people who are ruining it for honest influencers.  But… try several pictures before judging if this person is a fraud (or contact me). Besides, there are still other reasons why a person can get a shadowban like spam behavior or broken hashtags like for example #boho (which seems to be broken for over a year and still counting). Read more about it here: http://alextooby.com/instagram-shadowban/

Don’t be all too happy.
I know plenty of accounts that fake it, but the Azure shadowban fails to detect it. Why? Because their system is based on hashtags and if the person hasn’t used any hashtags, Azure ends up telling you they don’t know if pictures are banned or not.

The danger.
Jealous about somebodies real success online? You can enter their account on websites like Gramblr and send a large amount of likes. Yes, they will get thousands of likes but they will also be shadowbanned! It’s the other way around. That’s why I’m really hoping Instagram shuts down these platforms.

common sense.
No small account can suddenly grow by the hundreds everyday in followers or likes, unless you are a celebrity. Growing organically takes patience, time and above all: good content. Getting your pictures displayed on others people timeline is a very tough business, especially now.
That’s why instead of spending time to trick the system, it is way more efficient to work with the system. It can be a good investment to bring in a professional with up-to-date knowledge and experience about social media.

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3 Comments

  1. August 5, 2017 / 1:14 pm

    Useful article. Thank you.

  2. Dominique Nancy
    August 18, 2017 / 5:55 pm

    Thanks for the tips.

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