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Banned hashtags are the ones that scammers and bots use in their Instagram posts to make sure their posts appear in the most popular of searches.

Banned Hashtags on Instagram

When I mention to people that they need to be wary of banned hashtags on Instagram, they immediately start thinking about hashtags that are offensive and probably contain swear words. But the problem is that banned hashtags are just innocent victims of their own popularity. They’re inoffensive and on the surface, they look like they won’t cause any harm.

Banned hashtags are the ones that scammers and bots use in their Instagram posts to make sure their posts appear in the most popular of searches. These scam posts never have any connection to the hashtag.

For example, if like me, you watch popular television shows, you may have noticed that when you search for them on Instagram, weird and unrelated posts crop up too. This is because it’s easy to piggy-back on a successful hashtag to get a post seen. This abuse of a hashtag breaches Instagram’s terms and conditions.

What is a hashtag?

A hashtag is either a word, or a series of words without spaces that follow the # symbol. It’s a key word/phrase that best summarises the content of the Instagram post. Therefore that post is then affiliated with other Instagram posts that are using that hashtag. It’s basically a way of filing your content under the right subject so that people who are searching for a particular hashtag/subject may come across your post as well as others all talking about the same thing.

In the pink box below, you can see the hashtags used in The Social Flock. Members look out for these hashtags so they never miss the latest social media top tips or community news.

In the image below you can see the hashtags I used for TEDx Warrington posts. As you can see #TEDx and #TEDxWarrington are in blue, these are clickable links. Using hashtags in social media is a great way for everyone with a particular interest to keep up to date with what’s going on.

Once you search for #TEDxWarrington on Instagram these are all the posts that come up under the hashtag. Which is great as they all relate to TEDx Warrington. 

However if there were a number of posts that kept popping up that were totally unrelated to #TEDxWarrington then this may result in that hashtag being banned.

 The more popular the hashtag the more likely it is to be banned if people start using that hashtag for completely unrelated content.

These banned hashtags on Instagram will surprise you!

To demonstrate how innocent banned hashtags can be, can you believe that these fall into the category?

 #beautyblogger #pushups #humpday #snapchat #costumes and even #happythanksgiving.

There are hundreds and hundreds of them. It’s such a shame as they started life with such potential, but due to the sheer number of people using and searching them they have been targeted by scammers.

Don’t get shadow banned on Instagram!

What is shadow banning? Many people get shadow banned from Instagram because they are using a banned hashtag and don’t even realise it. When you are shadow banned, your visibility on Instagram is dramatically decreased. Your profile won’t show up in the searches and your posts that contain the banned hashtag won’t get visibility, but you won’t officially be banned from the platform itself.

Instagram will not inform you that you have been shadow banned.

Should you use a banned hashtag in every one of your posts, then Instagram may assume that you are a scammer, and the platform has the power to shut your account down without any warning.

How to identify if an Instagram hashtag has been banned.

One of the best Instagram tips is ‘do your research!’ It only takes a few seconds to check that the hashtags you are using are helping you grow your business and not doing it harm.


  • Open up your phone and head to Instagram.
  • For the purpose of this exercise, I am checking to see if #thought is ok to use.
  • Write in the hashtag you want to check BUT DON’T PRESS SEARCH!
  • Instead, click on the hashtag that appears with the number of posts it has below it (I’ve highlighted it in the image below to show you which one to click on).
  • If the following text appears – stay clear of the hashtag: ‘recent posts for #thought are hidden because some posts may not follow Instagram’s Community Guidelines.’ (You can see these words circled in the image.)

How to minimise the risk of using banned hashtags

  • You can head to Google and ask the search engine to give you a list of all banned Instagram hashtags. But this may not be up to date!
  • You can minimise the number of hashtags you use in your Instagram posts. Between 5 and 10 is optimum for this platform.
  • Don’t use the same hashtags for every post. Mix them up a bit, so if a banned hashtag accidentally slips in, at least you won’t be using it every time.
  • Regularly double-check that the common hashtags you are using are ok. Ones that are fine today, may not be tomorrow!
  • Join The Social Flock to discover even more tips. This week I’ll be sharing the best sites to use where you can scan your Instagram account to check that it adheres to the platform’s strict terms and conditions.

What is The Social Flock?

The Social Flock, is perfect for anyone who finds planning their social media content a burden, struggles to find the time to dedicate to their digital marketing, is stuck for post ideas or lacks confidence to press that ‘publish’ button!

 Members meet up online every week to get their posts written for the week ahead and attend regular structured webinars to discover the latest social media tips and news to accelerate the growth of their business. Come and join us, we’d love to welcome you to #TheSocialFlock.

Find out more and join today.

As ever, if you have any questions, get in touch. I’m here to help you succeed with social media!

logo- Picture of a cartoon sheep with The Social Flock words around it

Bye for now,


Becs Bate
Social Media Consultant, Social Media Executive


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