In the dynamic landscape of social media, rules, and guidelines play a crucial role in maintaining a safe and respectful environment.
This is particularly true for Instagram, a platform that thrives on engagement, discovery, and community-building.
But while hashtags on Instagram offer a powerful way to boost visibility and foster communities, not all hashtags are created equal. Some are considered out-of-bounds and using them might put your account at risk. These are the banned Instagram hashtags.
These seemingly innocent tags can become a silent saboteur of your Instagram success if not identified and avoided, including reduced visibility of your posts to possible shadow banning.
But why does Instagram ban certain hashtags, and how can you steer clear of them? And more importantly, how can you ensure that your content always aligns with Instagram's guidelines?
Interested? Then read on!
What are banned Instagram hashtags?
Instagram uses hashtags to categorize content, making it easier for users to discover posts that interest them. However, not all hashtags are deemed appropriate by Instagram. Some are restricted because they violate Instagram's community guidelines.
Banned hashtags, also known as blocked or shadowbanned hashtags, are certain words or phrases that Instagram has restricted from use. If you use one of these hashtags in a post, it may not show up in search results or on the hashtag's page, rendering your content nearly invisible to anyone who doesn't already follow you.
Why are there banned hashtags?
Instagram's primary goal is to create a safe and inclusive environment for its users.
Banned hashtags exist to prevent the spread of harmful content, such as explicit or offensive material, harassment, hate speech, and illegal activities.
By not distributing content that utilizes these hashtags, Instagram aims to maintain a positive user experience and foster a supportive online community.
How banned hashtags work:
Instagram has a constantly evolving list of banned hashtags that is regularly updated to combat emerging trends and issues.
When a hashtag is banned, any post containing that particular hashtag will be hidden from the public search results, making it difficult for users to discover such content. Instagram employs both automated algorithms and manual moderation to identify and block posts using banned hashtags.
However, it's important to note that some banned hashtags are context-dependent and may be allowed in certain situations while prohibited in others.
Common types of banned hashtags:
1) Explicit or offensive content: Instagram aims to create a family-friendly platform, and therefore, any hashtags that contain sexually explicit, pornographic, or offensive content are strictly prohibited.
2) Harassment and hate speech: Instagram has a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech, bullying, and harassment. Any hashtags that promote or incite violence, discrimination, or harm towards individuals or groups are banned.
3) Illegal activities: Hashtags associated with illegal activities, such as drug use, buying or selling firearms, promoting gambling, or other illicit actions, are prohibited.
4) Counterfeit and infringing products: Hashtags that promote counterfeit goods or violate intellectual property rights are banned to protect brands and discourage the sale of unauthorized products.
Tips to avoid using banned hashtags:
- Stay informed: Regularly check Instagram's community guidelines and keep up-to-date with the list of banned hashtags. It is important to stay informed about any changes or updates to avoid unintentional violations.
- Research hashtags: Before using a hashtag, research its meaning, popularity, and context. Some seemingly innocent hashtags may have been co-opted by inappropriate or offensive content, making them banned.
- Monitor your content: Regularly review your posts to ensure they comply with Instagram's guidelines. Avoid using hashtags that may be associated with banned or sensitive topics.
- Use relevant and specific hashtags: Instead of relying on broad and generic hashtags, use more specific and relevant ones that accurately represent your content. This reduces the chances of inadvertently using a banned hashtag.
Another way is to use hashtag generators, as most popular ones have taken the precaution to filter out banned hashtags.
You can also simply ask an AI tool like ChatGPT or Bard AI to check whether a given set of hashtags have been banned.
Using an Instagram-banned hashtag checker
To simplify the process of identifying and avoiding banned hashtags, several tools have been developed, one of which is MetaHashtags' Banned Hashtag Checker.
This tool helps users check their hashtags to see if they are banned on Instagram. Here's how you can use MetaHashtags to ensure you're not inadvertently using banned hashtags:
- Go to the MetaHashtags Banned Hashtags Checker tool page.
- In the search box, enter a list of hashtags you want to check (eg #love #beauty #kissing #fashion)
- Click on the Check and Clean button
MetaHashtags will remove all banned hashtags so that you only remain with those that are safe to use.
Complete list of banned hashtags:
Listing all the banned hashtags would be a colossal task, as Instagram constantly updates its list based on new trends and behaviors.
Now, banned hashtags can sometimes be surprising, as they're not always explicit or offensive. For instance, innocuous hashtags like #desk, #eggplant, or #beautyblogger have been banned in the past due to their misuse.
Also, while a hashtag may have been banned, its iterations can still be safe to use. For example, the hashtag #beautybloggers is still safe to use
Here is the latest and most complete list of banned Instagram hashtags:
Please note that this list is subject to change, and it's important to stay updated with Instagram's community guidelines to ensure compliance.
What happens if I use banned hashtags on Instagram?
If you use banned hashtags on Instagram, your account may see temporary action blocks and reduced visibility for your posts.
Instagram has strict guidelines and policies regarding the use of hashtags, and certain hashtags are prohibited due to their association with spam, inappropriate content, or violation of community standards.
Here's what can happen if you use banned hashtags:
- Limited Visibility: When you use banned hashtags, your post may be hidden from the hashtag's search results or explore page. This means that users who browse those hashtags or explore that topic won't see your post, reducing its reach and engagement potential.
- Account Penalties: Repeatedly using banned hashtags or engaging in other violations of Instagram's guidelines can result in penalties for your account. These penalties can range from temporary restrictions, such as reduced reach or limitations on specific features, to more severe actions like temporary suspensions or permanent bans.
- Shadowbanning: If Instagram detects that you consistently use banned hashtags or engage in other activities against their policies, they may impose a shadowban on your account. A shadowban makes your content less discoverable to users who don't follow you, reducing your visibility and engagement.
- Risk to Account Health: Using banned hashtags can negatively impact your account's overall health and reputation. Instagram's algorithms are designed to detect and penalize accounts that engage in spammy or inappropriate behavior. Your account's credibility and trustworthiness may suffer if you repeatedly violate Instagram's guidelines.
What is shadowbanning?
Shadowbanning is a practice employed by social media platforms, including Instagram, to limit the visibility of a user's content without notifying the user or banning their account. Essentially, it's like putting a user's content in a “shadow,” hidden from view.
When a user is shadowbanned, their posts don't appear in the feeds of non-followers or under the hashtags they've used. While the user can still post content, and their existing followers can still see their posts, the content doesn't reach a broader audience, effectively limiting the account's growth and reach.
Shadowbanning can occur for various reasons, such as if the user violates the platform's community guidelines, uses bots or automated services, or consistently uses banned or irrelevant hashtags. Because the practice is not formally acknowledged by most platforms and can be challenging to identify, it has been a source of controversy and discussion among social media users and experts.
However, one thing that's for sure is this: Shadowbanning is for real.