Between recent privacy concerns and updates to the Instagram algorithm and feed, the platform is going through some big changes that affect both marketers and users. At The Motherhood, we always have our ear to the ground to track the impact of these changes on influencer campaigns, and we will provide insights in subsequent blog posts as the dust begins to settle. Today, we plan to focus on Instagram’s banned hashtags.
If you manage social media profiles for your brand or blog, then you are probably familiar with how hashtags can help increase your reach and engagement, particularly on Instagram. But what you might not know is that more than 114,000 hashtags have been banned on Instagram, and using a banned hashtag can cause your content, or even your account, to be blocked.
Are you unknowingly using these banned hashtags? How do you implement a smart and Instagram-approved hashtag strategy? Read on for The Motherhood’s tips on how to effectively use hashtags on Instagram.

WHy is instagram banning hashtags?

When Instagram detects that a hashtag is being used broadly with content that violates their Community Guidelines, the platform will ban the hashtag, and it can be either temporarily or permanently blocked. These guidelines encourage users to “foster meaningful and genuine interactions,” stating:

“Help us stay spam-free by not artificially collecting likes, followers, or shares, posting repetitive comments or content, or repeatedly contacting people for commercial purposes without their consent.”

While inauthentically gaining engagement is a common reason for banning a hashtag, other violations of community guidelines include posting unoriginal photos, copyrighted photos, graphic images, hate speech, or threats and discrimination against other Instagram members.

What happens when I use banned hashtagS?

Using banned Instagram hashtags can shadowban, or in serious cases, block your account from the Instagram Community. Banned hashtag use could also render your other hashtags useless (meaning your post also won’t show up in their respective hashtag feeds).

To see if your post has been shadowbanned, you can click on any hashtag in your post (if you used more than one) and check if your image appears in that hashtag’s feed. If it does not, there is a chance that your post was shadowbanned.

whICH hashtags are banned?

The list has included common hashtags like #adultlife, #beautyblogger and #instamood. It also includes some you probably wouldn’t suspect, but have been used in spam-like posts often, like #kansas.

Check out this list from Social Insider, but keep in mind that it does not include all of the 114,000 hashtags that are or have been blocked. As with anything on social media, this list is ever-evolving, so hashtags that appear on this list may no longer be banned by the time you are thinking about using them.

One way to tell if a hashtag is still banned is to go to Instagram’s app and search for a hashtag under the “Tag” section. If it doesn’t appear in the list, it’s banned. If it does appear, you’ll want to click on it and make sure that it isn’t partially banned. Here’s an example of that:

Image from Rebelle Nutrition


should I even use hashtags?

Don’t say no to hashtags altogether! Research has shown that using even one hashtag in a post can increase engagement by 12.6 percent.

While Instagram’s limit is up to 30 hashtags, we advise you not to use 30 hashtags in one post. According to research by TrackMaven (via Revive), performance peaks when you use around 10 hashtags per Instagram post. More than that can look spammy — both to your followers and to Instagram’s algorithm!

Instagram encourages its community not to solely rely on hashtags for growth, but instead on creative and organic content. So while hashtags can certainly be implemented in your content to increase exposure, make sure you aren’t relying too heavily on them.

Important tip: Do not use Instagram bots to increase engagement! They can potentially hurt your account, as Instagram has recently been cracking down on bots and making updates to the algorithm that will penalize or shadowban your posts.

Which banned hashtag surprised you? Share it in the comments!