Many users are currently reporting problems with hashtags on Instagram. When some users upload photos that are tagged, their photos do not show up under the hashtags they used. I have read about this issue in discussion forums the last few days and yesterday it happened to me as well.
I uploaded a photo yesterday evening using about 30 tags, which is the maximum number allowed by Instagram. Normally after I have done this, my photo would immediately show up under the hashtags that I used. But now it didn’t. In fact, on the tags that I had used, almost no new photos from the last hour or so showed up, even on tags where there usually are new photos uploaded every minute, like #reflections.
It was soon obvious to me that this was an actual thing, not something that only I noticed in my app. Normally I get a small number of likes, say 10-15, during the first few minutes after uploading a photo. And many of them are from non followers because they discover my photos elsewhere than in their feed.
Now, however, notifications were almost silent. Only a single like or two during the first five to ten minutes, and only from followers. This was a clear sign that my photo was only visible to my followers.
Hashtags on Instagram aren’t working
So I started to investigate. None of the tags I had used displayed almost any recent photos. Some 30-40 minutes ago, some from an hour ago. My photo did not show up anywhere.
I logged in to other accounts but the results were the same, even for tags that I had not used in this photo. So had I been shadow banned? I don’t know, the concept of shadow ban is controversial and many experts say it doesn’t exist. Shadow ban is a theory that a user is somehow being punished by Instagram’s algorithm, resulting in their photos not being displayed under hashtags.
After about 2-3 hours the problem seemed to have been resolved and my photo was visible again on the hashtags. It even got promoted to the top 9 trending hashtags on more than 10 tags, so clearly all was fine again.
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Users are upset
It was soon clear that this problem was affecting lots of people. Instagram tweeted out this weekend’s hashtag project and the replies to this tweet are mainly about the tag issue.
In a Facebook group about social media, people were frustrated because their photos tanked and weren’t displayed at all.
There does not seem to be a workaround for users at the moment, should this issue continue. My only recommendation at the moment is to check the hashtags before you publish and see if they are displaying recent photos. If not, maybe you should wait and publish later.
Also, check Twitter discussions and see if other people are having the same problem with hashtags. Then at least you will know it is a general Instagram bug and not someting that you did.
Footnote: follow me on Instagram for travel photos: @kullin