Every year – in fact, every day – Instagram decides that certain hashtags are banned. Some are banned permanently, some just temporarily and others can have a huge affect on your social media reach and growth.
For personal use, it matters little. But if you’re relying on Instagram for business, well, this where understanding Instagram and its deep, dark rules becomes crucial.
This is everything you need to know.
First things first, what’s a banned hashtag?
A banned hashtag is a hashtag that Instagram has deemed, well, banned. In recent years, the platform decided it would ban any hashtag that may encourage behaviour that could be seen as inappropriate.
In an interview with The Huffington Post in 2016, Nick Drewe, a social media analyst for The Data Pack, explained there are different kinds of banned hashtags.
“There are two levels of censorship,” Drewe said. “Hashtags can either have an outright block, and return no results, or a sort of ‘soft,’ often more temporary censorship with around 30 results.”
So, some will be banned and never come back, and others might be banned for a little while, while Instagram investigates.
What happens if I use a banned hashtag?
A few things. Firstly, using a ban hashtag can affect your reach. If you use too many of them, there’s a small chance you might actually receive something called a “shadowban”, which effectively hides your account from everyone who doesn’t follow you.
To them, it’s like you don’t exist.
How do I know if a hashtag is banned?
The easiest way to know is to search for the hashtag in your Instagram search section. When you click through, and scroll down the images, and you’ll stumble on a message that explains some images “currently hidden”.