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action block & shadow ban

action block & shadow ban

Let's talk about the dreaded dark sides of Instagram: Instagram 'jail' - aka action block, and shadow ban!

all about action block

An 'Action Block' - is where Instagram recognises that you have been using certain actions too much, which will flag up in their algorithm as spam. Unlike being shadow banned (which we will talk about next), Instagram does make sure to tell you when you are action banned! The reason instagram will put you on action block, is if you like, comment, or follow to many accounts in a certain period of time. This is to avoid harassment and spam. To avoid being put on action block, make sure you are not overusing these features in a short amount of time. Although it is still unknown the exact limit that Instagram doesn't like - a general census, at least on following - which is the most common form of action block, is following/unfollowing 200 accounts a day - or doing any more than 500 total actions a day. See the graphic below for a rough guideline of the Instagram Limits:


how to avoid action block

To avoid being action blocked, try to keep your actions spaced out - don't do them all in one go, and don't overdo it! Instagram's algorithm is smart enough to know when you're engaging with accounts you're generally interested in, and when you're just engaging for the sake of potential return. If you do get action blocked for a particular action, try to avoid this action for the next 6-10 hours to avoid it lasting longer

how long does it last?

There is no set time as to how long an action block can last - however usually if you do not offend again after the warning, it will be around 6-12 hours. Action blocks can last up to a MONTH if instagram suspects you of repetitive inappropriate or spammy behaviour - so be careful! This can really damage your growth!

What is 'Shadow Ban'?

'Shadow ban' is when Instagram punish your account by hiding your posts from your posts on some or all or some hashtags, prevents you from getting to the explore page, reduces your overall reach, and makes it harder to grow and be discovered. Instagram will do this is you have recently committed a community guidelines felony. Instagram's Community Guidelines are a set of rules put in place by Instagram to keep the app safe, organic, spam free and appropriate.

There has been some speculation as the whether 'Shadow Ban' actually exists in recent years, as Instagram are known to have danced around the topic themselves. But reading between the lines of their community guidelines shows that Instagram most certainly does lessen the reach of some accounts.

I have placed a screenshot below of one such example of Instagram noting that this is the case

Screenshot 2021-03-21 at 15.56.21.png

There is no announcement for being shadow banned, it is just something that you will have to notice on your own, by tracking your engagement - one way I find it really easy to tell if you have been shadow banned is how many people look at your story, if this seems far too low - them you could be shadow banned!


There are various reasons you could be 'shadow banned'. As Instagram hasn't publicly addressed their existence, it is difficult to know exactly what it is in Instagram's algorithm that causes it. Above everything else, Instagram wants to keep it's audience organic, and avoid spam! Therefore by avoiding activities that make you seem this way, you reduce the risk! Here are a few speculated causes of action bans:​


  • Buying followers or likes

  • Overuse of 'Engagement Groups'

  • Using some 3rd party apps (usually those affiliated with unfollowing other accounts or buying followers)

  • Disobeying instagram's rules (posting offensive comments, bullying, racism, nude images etc.)

  • Over engaging in a 'spammy' manner.

  • Being put on action ban numerous times in a short period.


Shadow bans are speculated to last around a week. If you are suspicious that your account may have been flagged for any of these activities and put you on shadow ban, make sure to avoid them completely for at least a week. Use instagram normally, do not over like or follow, post as normal.

What is Shadow Ban?
Avoiding Action Block
All about Action Block
How to Avoid Action Ban
Keeping your Engagement high on AB

how to keep engagement high whilst on action block?

Some of the first things that comes to mind when you get the dreaded Instagram action block notification can be:

'how am I going to keep my engagement up?'

'will my engagement rate drop?'

'Is there anything I can do to maintain engagement when I can't post or engage?'

Here are my top tips!

1) Keep Uploading Stories

although Action Block seems to be different for everyone if what you can and can't do - I have found that a lot of people can still post stories. Use this feature to keep your audience engaged! Post to your story every day if you can - and make absolute use of the story stickers. Consider using some of our story hacks to keep that engagement high. This way, when you do come back, your audience are still likely to be able to see your content higher up on their feed.

2) Go Live!

Another feature I find IG regularly allows you to keep using whilst action blog is Instagram live - and Instagram live rooms! I know going live can be pretty scary, especially if you've never tried it before. But this is a great time to start! Consider doing something easy, like a plain and simple 'live hangout' where you just go live, and hang out with any of your followers who join the room. Another easy idea, is a Q&A. You ca also do something relative to your niche (go live whilst you're doing your makeup, sorting out your closet, cooking a meal for the kids etc.).


Live rooms, or going live with someone else are also a great place to start. Consider this instead, it will also get you some great interaction from new followers of the other creator's account!

3) Use external links

Draw engagement to your older posts, through sites that aren't Instagram! This could be writing a blog and linking to your IG at the end, sending our an email to your list, re-using your posts on Pinterest with a link to your post, sharing your account in facebook groups, or drawing attraction to your account via your other social media channels!

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