Ban Instagrams "Shadow Ban"

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What is a "Shadow Ban"?

   Wiki: "Stealth banning (also called shadow banning, ghost banning or comment ghosting) is the act of blocking a user from an online community such that the user does not realize that they have been banned. By making a problem users 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. If the user never becomes aware that they were banned, it will not occur to them to attempt to circumvent that ban".

   It took me days and days of research to find out what had happened to my Instagram account. For your information, I am a Recording Artist who makes Hip-hop and R&B and my account reflects that (IG: Kwyat Man). Here is my story:

   After clicking on the App to look at my notifications, I was suddenly prompted to input my phone number to update my profiles security - I could not avoid this page - I thought I was being hacked as it already had my number in place but I went ahead with it anyway as I had no choice. After I entered my number I was sent a text with a code, once entered it returned me to my profile. Here's where the problems began. I immediately noticed that ALL of my 1800+ posts were GONE! After a couple of seconds they started to reappear; only 419 came back.... I was livid to say the least. As I thought I was being hacked I immediately contacted Instagram using the "Report a Problem" link in the 'Support' section. I never received an email back. So, for the next 3 days I kept sending messages regarding my "Hacked" account. It wasn't until I noticed my 'Likes' had dropped significantly from about 100 per picture to 10. This is when I started to do some more research and found out that hundreds of people had been affected by this "Shadow Ban" that had been put onto my account.

   Why was my account and other peoples Shadow Banned? Hashtags & Bots (paying websites to give you 'fake' Likes & Followers - I understand banning this). From what I have read, those are the main reasons. Here are the reasons I can only assume I was blocked for: 

  1. Someone used a restricted hashtag in one of my comments (which I did not see for days).
  2. I used the restricted hashtag #RealHiphop (on my Hip-hop profile...).
  3. I put hashtags in the comments and not the caption and...
  4. I suddenly received a huge influx of Traffic (Views and Likes etc) due to a celebrity sharing my content.

Due to all of this, Instagram, without any real investigation or questions, shadow banned my account. The issue of losing 1400+ pictures is another problem.

   These Shadow Ban's are put in place to prevent spamming but, their community guidelines are too loose and their banning, too strict. What's wrong with using hashtags? Nothing at all but Instagram has a GIANT list of restricted and banned hashtags that should not be used - obviously, anything sexual or abusive but some of these are ridiculous! #BeautyBlogger, #Curvy, #ILoveMyInstagram, #Like, #Desk & #Gloves are among the many that are restricted/banned... Really?... When using restricted or banned hashtags you do not get a warning or an error message - nothing! When you put in 31 hashtags instead of the maximum 30 you get an error message, why not the same for these? Can they not automatically delete these whenever they're posted?...

   See, the problem with this Shadow Ban is not with the ban itself but, with the way Instagram is implementing it. Small businesses are being secretly destroyed without warning. Having read articles and watched videos of people on the verge of crying because their growing online business is being dismantled, I have seen the impact of what a careless act like this can do. Celebrities on the other hand are catered for as they're bringing in revenue - Instagram clearly does not care about its lesser known fan base. The main problem I have is that there is no guide on "'Shadow Banning' and How To Avoid It" from Instagram themselves and after reading up on how to get rid of the ban, it's really luck of the draw. Some say it took one day, others months, others NEVER.

   Finally, EVERYONE has said that Instagram are IMPOSSIBLE to contact. Imagine if my account had been hacked... With Likes & Follows from Celebrities such as Timbaland, Christina Milian, Kool & The Gang, DJ Kool Herc (creator of Hip-hop) etc, I'd like to keep my account but it's been over a week, and after contacting the CEO(s) & creators Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger and Mark Zuckerberg (Founder of Facebook) on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter multiple times using different methods, I've still had no response. The only response someone has had from Instagram regarding this was, in summary, "Please do not rely on hashtags, create better content"... Cold. Also, forget about making a new account because I tried that and they banned that one also.

   If you have been affected by the "Shadow Ban", please 
Sign This Petition, SHARE it with others who have been Shadow Banned and I'll make sure Instagram takes heed and makes the necessary changes to help out its smaller customers. I will not stop until we have this change implemented.

Thank You,

Joe Tracy

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