how to remove an Instagram block in 2020

Rosemary Slade

What do you do when you’ve been blocked from Instagram?

What do you do if you’ve been banned or blocked from Instagram? And what do you do when Instagram is the one that’s blocked you? Sigh. Well, if you’re anything like me, you take pensive looking photos, for one. (See above: example A). You also scream, shout, have multiple temper tantrums, throw things and curl into an anxious little ball before rocking yourself back and forth like a child. (Overshare? Ok! Moving right along.) And if you’re someone who has trouble sitting still, like me… then you also work on “other stuff.” Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, blogging and so on.

But before we talk about what to do when you’ve been banned, let’s start at the beginning, and first talk about how to not get banned. It’s a pretty short story, really.

The best thing to do is not get blocked in the first place. Duh.

And the best way to do that, is to not violate instagram’s terms of service and not act in a way that might lead the app to believe you could be. It’s also important to not act in a way that might appear to be spammy.

What do I mean by that? I mean that Instagram puts a lock, of sorts, on your account if you do certain things too much. Those things include:

* liking too many posts in a row (30 is the limit)
* commenting on too many posts in a row (30 is the limit)
* commenting the same thing over and over again
* following and/or unfollowing too many people in a row (30 is the limit)

So, how do you know if you doing that? Well, instagram hasn’t actually published any limits and opinions vary, but by far the best definition that I’ve read of these limits is as follows:

You can have 60 “meaningful relationships” or interactions on the platform per hour. That includes: liking, commenting and following or unfollowing. And it includes combinations of the above.

So, if you, for example, follow 20 people, unfollow ten, like ten posts and then comment on 20, then that’s your 60 “relationships” done and dusted for the hour.


You can have up to 60 meaningful relationships per hour.

So, if you, for example, follow 20 people, unfollow ten, like ten posts and then comment on 20, then that’s your 60 “relationships” done and dusted for the hour.

Other reasons you may find yourself blocked

Instagram may block or shadow ban accounts that use hashtags which have been flagged or reported for inappropriate or misleading content. To see if this is the issue, the best tactic is to remove all your hashtags from old posts. This is a labour intensive process, to be sure, but it’s the only known strategy for removing a shadow ban or block that’s been incurred for use of flagged, inappropriate or reported hashtags.

Instagram will also block accounts that log in from multiple locations. This is considered “spammy” behaviour, so it will incur the app’s wrath.

To avoid getting banned for this reason, don’t give anyone else your Instagram username or password. Apps that allow you to post remotely or schedule posts like or SkedSocial seem to be on the approved list, but any automated services that promise to build your following are not. Some examples of these include:, InstaZood and Gramto.

What about automation tools?

Automation tools like those mentioned above actually violate Instagram’s terms of service. Why? Because they interact in an unnatural “spammy” way. Any tool that makes a large number of calls to the Instagram API that’s not primarily in response to direct user actions (i.e. unnatural) is likely to be rate-limited or blocked.

As a general rule, logging in from your laptop and your phone, both based in Sydney, Australia doesn’t seem to create an issue, until a third location is added that isn’t in the same city. I incurred this problem when I hired a freelancer from Bangladesh to help build my following by engaging with followers of similar accounts. (This was a terrible idea, by the way. I spent the next few weeks completely unable to post, like or comment. My following did grow, but was it worth it for the followers I lost not being able to post for two weeks? Not really.)

Once my account was tagged for too many logins from different places or too many calls to the Instagram API, I couldn’t even use (a normally approved tool) to schedule posts.

If you do find yourself seeing the “action blocked” dialogue and you feel that you haven’t been using the app as much as they seem to think you have, it may be time to review who has access to your Instagram. Perhaps your intern has been attempting to build your following in her spare time? Or perhaps you allowed someone else admin privileges and forgot to revoke them? Whatever the case, here is where a simple password change can make a big difference.

Understanding Instagram’s limits and why they exist.

Instagram, itself, has said that it exists to enable “meaningful relationships.” The best way to understand why Instagram does the things it does is to understand one simple fact: Instagram is a user-generated platform. It exists solely for the benefit of its users. That’s right. Although your business advertising expenditure may help to fund it’s existence, and although my creativity and content creation may keep people coming back, it exists for the users. Period.

So, anything that you do as a business or that I do as a creator must be seen through the eyes of how it’s going to impact the user. Instagram will (quite sensibly, really, when you think about it) favour businesses and creators who inform and entertain, who keep people on the platform and who keep them coming back.  Anything that you do which may drive people out of the platform (i.e. spammy comments, over-zealous liking, or –– and this is a big one –– using the follow unfollow method) is going to be looked at unfavourably by Instagram.

The follow/unfollow method

In 2020, Instagram is, in particular, cracking down on follow/unfollow and on any automated tools. It’s actually against their code of conduct to use any automated tools for the sole purpose of building your following. The reason for this is, again, because it benefits you and not the users.

They haven’t published any nitty-gritty numbers about follow and unfollow limits, but based on my experience, you should not follow or unfollow any more than 19 accounts per hour. (Based on my experience, the limit at which your account is flagged for review or tagged for a block is 20 per hour, so it’s best to stay under it.)

The best way to understand why Instagram does the things it does is to understand one simple fact: Instagram is a user-generated platform. It exists solely for the benefit of its users.

Ok, so you did the wrong thing and got blocked. Now what?

Whoops. Look, we’ve all been there. You get excited by cool new content and you over-zealously comment on one too many posts in an hour. Or you try a little too hard to build your following and accidentally unfollow too many people in an hour. It happens. Don’t feel bad.

Generally a block will expire in 24-48 hours, assuming you haven’t done the wrong thing for weeks on end. For the most part, Instagram will generally include an expiration date on the “action blocked” dialogue.

Usually, you’ll be blocked from liking, commenting, posting, following and unfollowing all at once. For some reason, they still allow you post and view access to stories.

How to remove an Instagram block

The best things you can do if you find yourself blocked from using Instagram are as follows:

1. Use the “report a problem” button below the block notification to let Instagram know that you’re:
a) not a robot
b) actually using the application

2. Go to the “something’s not working” section in your settings and do the same. Be specific. Tell them your account is blocked from posting/commenting/liking (or whatever is appropriate) and tell them when the block first appeared.

3. Log out. Go cold turkey and stay. away. from. Instagram. Resist any urge to “check if the block has been removed”. In my experience, any interaction with the app just extends the block. For some reason, even though you can post to stories while blocked from other actions, this also seems to extend the block. Both times that my account has been blocked, the block has been removed after 24 hours of inactivity (including not posting to stories.)

4. Do. Something. Else. Write a poem, share your wisdom in a blog, start a Tumblr, update your LinkedIn profile, schedule a bunch of Facebook posts, or – shock horror – emerge from under your social media blanket and interact with real people for a change. I know, I know… desperate times.

Hope you enjoyed this blog on the ins and outs of Instagram blocks. Have you ever found yourself blocked from the gram? Did you find these tips helpful? Let me know in the comments!

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