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Instaban: Beware of Banned Hashtags on Instagram

Hashtags have helped the social media world go ‘round since they debuted on Twitter in 2007. They serve to connect similar content shared by distinct users within social media platforms. Sounds great, right? Well, hashtags aren’t all puppies and rainbows. Their ability to connect has a darker side that has to do with facilitating the spread of undesirable or inappropriate content. In fact, banned hashtags on Instagram are a thing for this very reason.

About banned hashtags on Instagram

Instagram is all about protecting its users from offensive or inappropriate content. That’s why it gives them the ability to report posts that may display said types of content.

Banned hashtags are ones on posts that have been reported for going against Instagram’s Community Guidelines. Sometimes they are posts from actual legitimate users. Many times they are on posts made by bots.

In some instances, the nature of the hashtags Instagram chooses to ban are pretty obvious (vulgar, threatening, violence-inciting, etc.). Other times they may make you say, “Wait, this was banned?”

For example, #bodyconfidence appeared on this list of banned hashtags at the time we wrote this blog. When testing it ourselves, it appears it no longer has a temporary ban. (We’ll talk more about temporarily vs. permanently banned hashtags in a minute.) Same story with #valentinesday on this list. (Insert puzzled look here.)

What happens if you use a banned hashtag?

Essentially, if you post something to your page, and the post includes one of Instagram’s banned hashtags at the time, Instagram won’t show your post to your audience. It also won’t show the post in association with any other hashtags you used.

Popularly known as being “Shadowbanned” this state of isolation, according to some Instagram users, can also mean your account will not appear when people search for you. In theory and in most cases, it appears Shadowbanning is temporary; however, continued use of banned hashtags could get your page permanently banned from the platform.

Temporarily banned hashtags vs. permanently banned hashtags

Speaking of temporary vs. permanent, let’s distinguish between temporarily-banned hashtags and permanently-banned hashtags. It’s pretty self-explanatory.

Different disclaimers appear when searching for certain hashtags depending on whether Instagram has banned them temporarily or permanently. Here’s the temporary disclaimer:

“Recent posts from (insert banned hashtag here) are currently hidden because the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.”

The permanent disclaimer is a bit more serious.

“Can we help? Posts with words or tags you’re searching for often encourage behavior that can cause harm and even lead to death. If you’re going through something difficult, we’d like to help.”

How to know if you’re using a banned hashtag

So, this all sounds pretty serious. After all, many Instagram users rely on the platform for their entire livelihoods, and our clients certainly rely on it to support their marketing efforts. How do you know if you are unintentionally using banned hashtags on Instagram?

If you do a Google search for “banned hashtags on Instagram,” a slew of sites pop up claiming to have “the most updated lists” of banned hashtags (including this banned hashtags “checker” tool). We put a few of these to the test by searching for some of the hashtags they listed as banned on the Instagram platform.

For some, the “temporarily banned” or the “permanently banned” disclaimer did display. For others, it took us right to the hashtag page and appeared to be business as usual. That being said, we believe it’s difficult to keep an updated list of banned hashtags since it’s always changing, and Instagram itself does not provide one.

Our best advice is to use common sense. Again, it’s obvious as to why Instagram bans some of the hashtags on this list. For the not-so-obvious ones, we suggest looking at a few of these lists to get an idea of what may be banned or what was once temporarily banned. Then, if you are ever questioning the use of a hashtag, type it directly into Instagram’s search bar before you post to see if you get a disclaimer. If so, proceed with your post without the hashtag in question.


Banned hashtags on Instagram serve to protect the platform’s users, but the unintentional use of them can have devastating effects on your page. Stay in-the-know with help from your favorite marketing company—a.k.a., us!

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

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