Watch out for banned Instagram hashtags you don't even know you're using
Watch out for banned Instagram hashtags you don't even know you're using

Using hashtags on Instagram is one of the primary ways for your content to reach your target audience.

You simply enter “#” in your caption or comment then type whatever your heart desires to add a hashtag to your post. Instagram makes it easy.

Almost too easy… 😳

But did you know that Instagram bans certain hashtags?

If you accidentally use any of these banned hashtags it could drastically affect your ability to reach potential followers or customers.

banned hashtags on Instagram
It can be frustrating if you are penalized for using banned hashtags on Instagram.

There is a lot to learn about dealing with banned hashtags on Instagram, including a strategy on how to never use a single one.

Let’s dive in. 👇

What is a banned hashtag?

There are millions of people who post on Instagram every day and of course, some of them have to ruin it for the rest of us.

Unfortunately, there is content that is against the Instagram community guidelines or flat out inappropriate that surfaces on the platform.

Instagram prevents this malicious content from spreading by locking down any hashtag page with a lot of flagged content or by just banning certain hashtags altogether.

example banned instagram hashtag
If you see this message when you look at a hashtag then it’s one of the signs that it’s banned.

It’s possible for a hashtag to be banned forever or to only be banned temporarily. Typically if a hashtag was previously banned at any point then it’s probably not a good idea to continue to use it.

Want to see an example of a banned hashtag? 🤔

Visit the hashtag page for #costumes on Instagram. Looks pretty normal right? Turns out it’s banned by Instagram.

Why is Instagram banning hashtags?

The reason why Instagram doesn’t want you to use banned hashtags is pretty simple.

They want to keep their platform clear of things like explicit content, bullying, swearing, derogatory terms, and body image issues. If they see that you are putting out content that is against what they are trying to prevent then they will take action to quiet your content.

It’s kind of hard to argue against this. 😐

There are literally over a billion hashtags you could use. If there is one that is banned or was banned at some point, just don’t use it.

Instead, find another hashtag.

It’s for the betterment of the overall community and direction of Instagram as well as your benefit to not use these banned hashtags.

Am I using banned hashtags?

There are a ton of banned hashtags that exist and they are constantly changing due to people reporting them or too much content being flagged.

If you think you aren’t using banned hashtags, think again. 🤭

Around 60% of Instagram users who sign up for Curate have used at least 1 banned hashtag before.

percent of users who use banned hashtags
An alarming number of people use banned hashtags on Instagram.

It just goes to show how easy it can be to accidentally use a banned hashtag and not even know it.

How to tell if a hashtag is banned or not?

Okay, so don’t use any banned hashtags, simple enough right?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a single, clear way to tell if a hashtag is banned or not. 🤬

signs of a banned hashtag on Instagram
These are all signs of a banned hashtag on Instagram.

Any of these signs indicate that a hashtag is banned to some degree by Instagram:

  • Seeing the main photo for the hashtag show up as a generic black and white image of the hashtag symbol. (example: #hips)
  • Scrolling down and running into a message that explains recent posts are currently hidden for breaking the community guidelines. (example: #problems)
  • Make you accept a content advisory before even showing you a single post. (example: #loseweight)
  • Offer help if you are going through something in your life (example: #notgoodenough)
  • You can’t see that hashtag at all on Instagram and get a “Page Not Found” message. (example: #iphone)

If you see any of these signs of a banned hashtag then avoid it at all costs. 😵

What are some banned hashtags?

There are thousands of banned hashtags on Instagram and many of them you wouldn’t suspect.

Certain topics are widely banned like fitness-related hashtags including #pushups or #fitnessmen or holidays like #newyearsday and #valentinesday.

One of the recent changes that Instagram made was to combat body image issues by banning hashtags like #beautyblogger, #loseweight, #todayimwearing, and #thinspiration.

Another recent change is hashtags related to the pandemic where we see hashtags like #n95 and #facemasks being banned. Even certain celebrity hashtags like #mileycyrus are banned by Instagram.

Some examples of hashtags that were banned previously but aren’t at the time of writing this are #iminpain and #boredaf. Remember, if a hashtag was previously banned then it is generally a good idea to just stay away from it.

What happens if I use a banned hashtag?

Using banned hashtags can drastically affect your posts’ ability to get in front of more viewers. It can even prevent all other hashtags from working on your account.

Wait… what?! 😠

That’s right, using a banned hashtag can cause Instagram to not show your posts on any of the hashtags that you use.

Have you seen your hashtag impressions drop to zero or single digits when you usually see much more? This can indicate that Instagram is penalizing you for using banned hashtags.

They don’t explicitly say anything about how this works exactly but the proof is from the thousands who experience it.

If you see your Instagram account being negatively affected by using banned hashtags then unfortunately the only thing to do is wait. Therefore it’s much better to avoid using banned hashtags altogether.

How do I prevent using banned hashtags?

All of this information on banned hashtags can be overwhelming.

Don’t stress. 🥺

These days there are Instagram hashtag tools that can help you check to see if a hashtag is banned or not.

I like to use Curate for this because it tells me if I have ever used a banned hashtag before, makes sure none of the hashtags I add are banned, and allows me to see which hashtags are banned when I do my hashtag research.

instagram hashtag checklist
Instagram hashtag tools can monitor your hashtag usage and keep you in check.

Whatever you do you should try and find something that automatically checks if any of the hashtags you are using are currently banned.

You just never know and it’s too time-consuming to check them all manually every time you post.

You now know all there is to know about banned hashtags on Instagram.

Researching hashtags is tiresome, taking away time from creating content or engagement but if you use them incorrectly it can have a negative impact.

Ensure you aren’t using any banned hashtags that will get your content flagged and continue to grow your Instagram organically.

Make sure you get the most out of the 30 hashtags you can use per post and stay in Instagram’s good graces.

Did you use any banned hashtags that you were unaware of?

Hopefully, that’s the last time! 🤓

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