You may have heard that certain hashtags are banned from Instagram, and wondered if that’s just a rumor.

Well, it’s not. Banned Instagram hashtags are real, and if you’re trying to promote your business on Instagram, it’s essential to pay attention to them and take them into account before posting.

Why does Instagram ban certain hashtags?

The purpose of banning hashtags is to minimize spamming and automatically hide posts that may violate Instagram’s community standards.

Some of these hashtags are obvious sources of trouble — like #allbreasts or #selfharm — but many of them seem totally innocuous. Why has Instagram banned #books, #snowstorm, and #easter? Those hashtags must have accompanied many spammy posts, and Instagram decided to ban them to fight spammers.

Some hashtags are banned permanently, while others are banned temporarily. And the list of banned hashtags changes from time to time.

What happens when you use a banned hashtag?

When you use a banned hashtag on an Instagram post, Instagram hides that post from hashtag searches and explore pages. If you use too many of them, Instagram may flag your account, and that can result in shadow banning (when Instagram bans your content without notifying you) or account removal.

That’s why it’s so important to avoid them.

But how are you supposed to know which ones are banned if some of them seem so innocent? And if the list is constantly changing, what if you used a hashtag that was fine when you posted it, but was banned later?

How to avoid banned hashtags

To ensure your account is free of banned hashtags, you’ll need to check an updated list before you post. You can find lists through Google — but make sure they were updated recently.

Additionally, you may want to audit your Instagram account every so often — say once a month — to check your profile for newly banned hashtags. If you don’t want to do this manually, consider using a paid service such as Banned Hashtags, which automatically scans your profile for banned hashtags and removes them.

Action Items:

  1. Review this list of banned hashtags from March 2020 and take note of any you may be likely to use at some point.
  2. Make your own condensed list of them, and consult that list before you post anything.
  3. Once a month, look up an updated list of banned hashtags and check to see if anything was added that you should add to your list.
  4. Once a month, review previous social media posts to make sure you didn’t use any hashtags that were banned later.