A few weeks back thousands of Instagram accounts were hacked, and consequently became victims of the dreaded shadowban. We asked a few of our influencers to tell us what it meant for them, and how it has affected their online lives.
Lisa-Jane Holmes from WildcatFit
Whilst I may have written recently on the subject of there being more to life than Instagram likes, and encouraging people to see beyond the photo squares shared on a daily basis by fitness influencers everywhere, I never for a second thought that only a couple of weeks later I’d have all the power over who saw my Instagram feed and when taken completely away from me.
And not just me, but literally thousands of people across the World have found themselves in the same boat since an alleged Instagram “hack” at the beginning of September.
Whilst I most definitely advocate a life not glued to uploading every minute detail, and creating feelings of inferiority by constantly comparing your life to the tiny snapshots we see of everyone else’ – I also recognise that for many of us (myself included), Instagram is an essential part of our business and our brand, and yet since the alleged hack many of us find ourselves in a situation where we are practically invisible to everyone but our extremely loyal followers.
On the 3rd of September, I was asked to enter a code on my Instagram via a text message that said it came from Facebook to reverify my account – I duly did this and carried on posting and sharing as normal.
But since then I have found myself shadow banned by Instagram, my engagement has tanked and my follower numbers are dropping like flies (I’ve lost over 500 followers in less than 2 weeks).
Only those who actively seek my posts out can actually see them, which defeats the entire object of using Instagram as a tool to promote my business and extend the reach of my brand. It also renders me pretty much redundant as an influencer.
I’ve worked so hard over the past 3 years to build my Instagram into a reflection of who I am as a person and what my Personal Training business is a brand.
I’ve built a community of genuine followers, always played by the rules, and have connected with so many amazing people, brands, places and opportunities through Instagram.
And yet in a matter of days this has all been taken away from me, and Instagram themselves not only don’t want to know but refuse to acknowledge there is even such a thing as a shadow ban.
Fellow influencer Ban Hass also has her own opinion on the matter:
I have a love-hate relationship with social media. Leaning more towards hate.
I don’t see it as a hobby. I don’t have a personal Instagram account. I limit the number of posts about my family and friends. But I use it because I think it’s invaluable. It’s smart. And I think we’re lucky to have it.
On countless occasions I’ve said ‘I wish social media didn’t exist’ and ‘I can’t wait for social media to just die!’ ‘I wish I didn’t have an Instagram’ and on September 1st, 2017 the social media Gods answered my prayer. I was on holiday in Croatia when I received a text message from Instagram to ‘verify’ my account by entering a code. I entered this code only to discover that nearly 1500 of my posts had been deleted and I had zero followers.
As I stared at my phone screen in disbelief I realised that my posts were slowly re-appearing. Phew! It’s fine. But it wasn’t fine.
During this time there was a reported ‘hack’ and Instagram announced that this was only problematic for celebrities and high-profile users accounts including Selena Gomez. What Instagram failed to report is the fact that thousands of people (including myself) across the globe were no longer ‘discoverable’ on Instagram due to a glitch they refused to acknowledge or resolve.
What did this glitch mean? It meant that my posts could only be seen by my current followers. It meant that engagement was significantly lower.
It means that my content was no longer visible. It meant that I’d never been able to grow as an account, a business, or as a brand via Instagram. I’ve never once thought ‘I need Instagram’. Some people ‘need’ Instagram to upload their breakfast, to post their workout selfie, to tell the world they’re the #luckygirl who has just got engaged. Other’s livelihood depends on Instagram. They earn, eat and pay their bills because of Instagram. I am neither.
I do not earn my living directly through Instagram. But Instagram has helped me. It has helped me connect with people.
It has given me work opportunities. It has introduced me to clients, friends and brands that want to work with me because of what they have seen via my account.
It has allowed me to share my passion (writing) with others.
More than anything, this ‘glitch’ has made me realise, that maybe, just maybe, I need to stop moaning about how much I hate social media and for once be grateful for all that it has helped me achieve.