Following hashtags on Instagram is an excellent way to keep up with the subjects and trends that pique your interest. It’s a fairly straightforward process – just tap on your favorite hashtag, navigate to its page, and select “Follow.” But sometimes, it’s not that simple. Despite tapping the “Follow” button multiple times, nothing happens, and you receive the error message “couldn’t follow the hashtag.” You might wonder whether this issue is due to Instagram’s algorithms or if there’s something wrong with your account.
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Why Can’t I Follow Hashtags on Instagram?
There are several reasons why you might be unable to follow a hashtag on Instagram. Let’s explore some of the possible causes:
1. Banned Hashtag
Certain hashtags are prohibited on Instagram because they are related to inappropriate subjects or are frequently spammed by bots. Some users repeatedly use these hashtags to boost engagement. While you may see these hashtags in the search results, you won’t be able to follow them. Using such hashtags might lead Instagram’s algorithms to view you as a bot or spammer, resulting in other penalties. Several online tools can help determine whether a hashtag is banned on Instagram, and you can find updated lists of banned hashtags from various sources. Third-party tools can also aid in inspecting all your hashtags to ensure they comply with Instagram’s guidelines, which is particularly useful if you use many hashtags in your posts.
2. Hashtag Follow Limit
Instagram doesn’t explicitly state a limit on the number of hashtags you can follow. However, since you can only follow 7,500 accounts, some users speculate that there might be a similar limitation for hashtags. To check if this is the issue, try unfollowing some hashtags and see if you can then follow new ones.
3. VPN Usage
Using a VPN can lead to instability in your Instagram experience and disable certain account features. Some features may not be available when connected to servers in certain countries. Additionally, a VPN changes your IP address. If your IP address changes frequently due to the VPN, Instagram algorithms might view it as suspicious activity and impose restrictions on your account. Try turning off the VPN and then attempt to follow the hashtag to see if it resolves the issue.
4. Account Authentication Error
An account authentication error might prevent you from following a hashtag. In such cases, Instagram is unable to verify your account due to unknown errors. The solution is simple – log out of your account and then log back in. To do this, go to your Profile, click the three vertical lines in the top right corner, navigate to Settings, scroll down to Log out, and finally sign back into your account. Check if you can now follow hashtags.
Instagram doesn’t officially acknowledge shadowbanning users for various reasons, such as not adhering to community standards. However, many experts believe that shadowbans do exist, and certain actions may result in this form of punishment. Being shadowbanned on Instagram can have multiple causes and consequences, including the inability to follow hashtags. If you suspect you’ve been shadowbanned, it’s essential to identify the reason behind it and take appropriate measures to rectify the situation. While the ban will eventually be lifted within a few days, it’s worthwhile understanding the actions that can increase the likelihood of this punishment. Here are some common reasons for being shadowbanned:
A. Using Banned Hashtags
As mentioned earlier, Instagram blocks hashtags that violate their guidelines, are spammy, or are exploited by bots. Some accounts use these hashtags to reach a wider audience, disregarding Instagram’s community standards. When these hashtags are repeatedly used, they become spam, which is also against Instagram’s rules. Including these hashtags in your posts may cause Instagram to view your account as suspicious or spammy, resulting in limitations on your platform activities. To avoid this, review all the hashtags used in your posts and check them with an online tool to ensure they are not banned. Avoid putting hashtags in the comments section, as deleting a comment with one spammy hashtag would also remove the positive impact of other legitimate hashtags.
B. Excessive Activity on Instagram
While you can spend hours scrolling through your feed, liking posts, and following accounts without any issues, certain activities are restricted. Engaging in too many direct messages, following accounts at a rapid pace, or leaving numerous comments within a short period may make you appear as a spammy or bot account. Instagram may respond by action-banning you, limiting your actions on the platform to reading comments and viewing photos and videos. In such cases, the best solution is to take a break from using your Instagram account for a few days and refrain from posting, commenting, or engaging in any other activities on the platform.
C. Reports by Other Users
Posting offensive content or being frequently reported by other users can result in a shadowban. Keep in mind that one or two reports alone won’t lead to a ban, but depending on the number of reports, you may receive different punishments. If you suspect that reports are the cause of your shadowban and are unsure about the exact reason, you can check your account status by going to your Profile, tapping Settings, navigating to Help, and selecting Account Status. Here, you can access a comprehensive report detailing the activities that violated Instagram’s rules and led to limitations on your account.
D. Bot Usage and Third-Party Apps
Using bots, software, or services that promise followers or engagement will likely result in punishments such as shadowbans. Instagram algorithms are highly sophisticated and cannot be fooled into increasing your reach or followers by paying for these services. The only way to avoid a shadowban is to act like a human user, grow your followers organically, and adhere to Instagram’s guidelines.
6. Temporary Bugs
Many users have reported that the issue of not being able to follow hashtags on Instagram disappears after a while. It could be due to temporary bugs in Instagram’s algorithms that are resolved by the app’s maintenance team. If none of the previously mentioned solutions work, it’s recommended to wait a few days and see if the “Follow” button reappears. Meanwhile, you can try some workarounds. Start by updating the Instagram app to the latest version, as available updates on Google Play or the App Store may contain bug fixes. Additionally, try accessing your account via Instagram’s web version, as it may not be affected by the same bugs that affect the mobile app.
7. Contact Instagram Support
If you’re still unable to follow hashtags even after a few days, reaching out to Instagram’s support team may be your last resort. Contact them and provide a detailed explanation of the issue, how long you’ve been experiencing it, and the steps you’ve taken to address it. You may be asked to provide screenshots or respond to follow-up questions. To access Instagram’s support team, go to your Profile, tap the three horizontal lines in the top right corner, navigate to Settings, select Help, and then Report a Problem.
How to Unfollow Hashtags on Instagram
There may be various reasons why you want to unfollow Instagram hashtags. You might lose interest in a particular subject and no longer wish to see posts related to it in your feed. Alternatively, you may come across posts associated with a hashtag that you never followed. Additionally, if you’ve reached the limit of hashtags you can follow, you may want to make space for new ones. To find the hashtags you currently follow on Instagram, go to your Profile and tap “Following.” Here, you’ll see a list of the accounts you follow. If you follow hashtags, they will appear above the accounts. Click on “Hashtags” to open the list and select the hashtags you want to unfollow. Tap “Following” and choose “Unfollow.” Another method to unfollow hashtags is to use the search button. If you know the exact hashtag you want to unfollow, tap the magnifying glass icon to access the search section. Type “#” followed by the hashtag’s name. You’ll see a list of variations of the hashtag, and you should select the one you want to unfollow. Tap the “Following” button on the hashtag’s page to unfollow it.
Why Can’t I Unfollow Hashtags on Instagram?
Regardless of the method you use to unfollow a hashtag, you may notice that it remains in your list of followed hashtags. This is especially true for hashtags you never followed in the first place. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, Instagram may be conducting experiments that cause the hashtag to appear in your list, but it will eventually disappear on its own. Some users have reported successfully unfollowing hashtags through Instagram’s web version. Another factor that might prevent you from unfollowing hashtags is unfollowing too many in a short period. In such cases, Instagram algorithms might identify you as a bot or spammy account and impose a cooldown, which could restrict your ability to follow or unfollow accounts. In such situations, waiting for a few hours or days before trying again is often the best course of action. If that doesn’t work, you can mute the hashtag or disable its notifications to stop seeing posts related to it in your feed until Instagram resolves the issue.
Can People See Which Hashtag You Follow?
If you’re concerned about your privacy, you may wonder whether the hashtags you follow are public. Following hashtags on Instagram has been available since 2017 and allows you to tailor your feed and Stories to your specific interests without cluttering your list of followed accounts. If you have a public account, anyone can see the hashtags and accounts you follow. However, if you have a private account, only your followers can see the hashtags and accounts you follow. When you follow a hashtag, a button appears in the “Following” section of your profile, just above the “Accounts” section.