Instagram Shadow Ban

Action Blocked… Your Account has been Temporarily Blocked on Instagram

When I first saw this notice I think I had a small heart attack.  What does this mean?  I had just finished being told by multiple people that Instagram was cracking down on accounts with bots and that some accounts were even being banned or deleted by Instagram with no real reasoning.  I heard this and immediately thought “there’s no way, it wouldn’t happen to me even if it was happening”… And then I saw the above message show up on my phone while using Instagram.

Most of us using Instagram for business are on there a lot and rely upon it as a source of connection to our communities.  I spend about a quarter as much time on my Instagram as many people I network with, and I can tell you that not having access to it for 6 days for a temporary block was extremely difficult on my little business.


    Action Blocked – This action was blocked.  Please try again later.  We restrict certain content and actions to protect our community.  Tell us if you think we made a mistake.

    Below I explain the steps that took place for me to get the ban, and the things I have since learned about the process.  I hope this helps someone who is in as panicked situation as I was the day that this message showed up on my phone.

    Important Note:
    I am sharing my personal experience in this post.  If you are involved in anything that violates Instagram’s policies there is a chance this ban could be for any number of reasons.  Please review Instagram’s Terms of Use Policy here if you are unsure.


    We are a website design and brand identity design company in Canada specializing in strategy-first and value-based design and content creation online.

    1. PROBLEM THE FIRST:  You’re Temporarily Blocked


    “Looks like you were misusing this feature by going too fast.  You’ve been temporarily blocked from using it.  We restrict certain content and actions to protect our community.  Tell us if you think we made a mistake.”


    This one I have actually seen before from liking comments too fast on a contest/giveaway.  The most common actions on Instagram are posting comments, liking pictures, following new users and direct messaging users.  Instagram actually has restrictions on how quickly you can do all the activities. you will get blocked immediately if you go too fast with any of them. 


    Likes per hour (max)- 60

    Follows per hour (max)- 60

    Comments per hour (max)- 60

    Messages per hour (max)-60


    Likes per hour (max)- 30

    Follows per hour (max)- 30

    Comments per hour (max)- 30

    Messages per hour (max)-30


    Stop using Instagram for 2-3 days.  I originally read 24-48 hours and started using the platform again within two days and then… well read on to see what happened next.


    2. PROBLEM THE SECOND:  Action Blocked


    “This action was blocked.  Please try again later.  We restrict certain content and actions to protect our community.  Tell us if you think we made a mistake.”


    As I mentioned in the what to do tip above, I was under the impression that waiting 24-48 hours to engage with my account would fix it.  In fact I actually did stop using my account for 2 days, however I had to continue usage of my client’s accounts as I do handle regular engagement for a few clients.  It seems that the temporary ban actually applies to all use on all accounts you are logged in as.  And although my activity was limited, one of the accounts was actually managed by myself and another social media company in unison.  I believe this may have been a contributing factor.

    A few of the common causes for this error:

    • trying to follow a lot of profiles in a short timeframe
    • trying to like a lot of content in a short period of time
    • you’ve been commenting the same thing under too many pictures
    • there are some like and follow actions that are posted via a bot
    • there are comments posted automatically via a bot
    • you have been using 3rd party app to complete certain actions on Instagram

    These were heavily used techniques in the early days of Instagram to grow a following on the platform.  As Instagram matured and grew to be one of the fastest growing social media platforms on the planet, the algorithm and the methods have shifted significantly.  To encourage Instagram users to grow a more authentic and engaged community the algorithms now favour more organic growth.  It is more work, but makes for a much more rich and valuable community online.

    I was not personally involved in any of the above mentioned causes, so I contacted Instagram to see if there was anything that could be done or if they could explain the exact cause and I never heard back.  I never heard back, so I suggest if you are looking for a why at this stage that you read Instagram’s terms of use.


    Similar to above, stop using your account for a minimum of 2-3 days.  An action on your account has triggered Instagram to believe you are either:

    • purchasing bulk followers
    • you are using bots, software solutions that promise follower growth

    If this has happened to you try the following solutions:

    • stop running bot/software solutions (if you do)
    • give yourself a break from “follow” and “like” activities for at least 72 hours
    • switch to mobile data
    • link your Instagram account with Facebook
    • switch devices

    3. PROBLEM THE THIRD:  Action Blocked – with an expiration date


    “Your account has been temporarily blocked from taking this action.  Sharing your account with a service that helps you get more likes or followers goes against our Community Guidelines.  This block will expire on 2019-10-30.  Tell us if you think we made a mistake.”


    When I saw this message I think I had a minor heart attack.  That date meant I was unable to use instagram for 6 days!  That is a long time for a small business.  So I stopped everything. Which was a smart move.  I went off line and started by contacting the social media agency that I was working in unison with on the account.  I was fairly quickly advised that they were in fact using an app to help with bulk following on the account we were co-managing.  It was a relief as well as a scary feeling for me both at the same time.  This meant that the block was warranted, but at least I didn’t personally cause it.


    Do nothing!!  No seriously that is actually my advice here, just wait until the date they provided.  I actually uninstalled the app for myself until the ban was lifted so I didn’t accidentally trigger anything further by opening it to a notification or anything.  As it promised the ban was lifted at midnight on October 20, 2019.  I only know this because I happened to be awake and tested it out.


    Anytime you have any type of error message showing on your instagram it is cause for alarm for many of us as this is a primary source of connection to our community as well as income generator.  If you are experiencing anything that seems even remotely fishy on your instagram account change your password immediately and then take a little break from Instagram.  There is no harm in laying off on the gram for a few days, and trust me it will save mounds of headache in the long run!

    Looking for help?

    We are a digital design studio who specialize in bringing your online presence to life through the use of strategy, design, and technology.  We offer services in Web Design, Brand Identity Design, and Social Media.  Our goal is to help you bring efficiency, revenue, and awareness to your business with an effective and beautiful online presence.  If  you would like to book a free initial conultation click here to get a free quote.

    About The Author

    Alicia Jones
    Designer & Certified Brand Strategist

    Strategic brand communication & design for purpose-driven brands seeking to increase efficiency and consistency online.


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