Wed 8 March 2023 22:18, UK

Shadow tags are the new tactic to attract the attention of your Instagram crush, so what is it exactly and how do you use them?

Instagram has rolled out several new features in the last few months, including the Notes tool that is reminiscent of AIM messages, and broadcast channels for creators.

A new trend taking over Instagram – and confusing TikTok users – is the concept of shadow tagging. It’s not an official feature launched by the platform, but an innovative hack created by users.

Without further ado, read on to find out what they are and how they can be useful.

Photo: Getty Images

What is a shadow tag on Instagram and why are they used?

Shadow tags are tags or hashtags that users secretly add to their Instagram Story, but are camouflaged within the image so it is invisible to the viewer.

They are useful when you want to tag a person, but do not want the writing to ruin your aesthetic photo.

It’s also used as a tool to get the attention of a crush, a tactic that Mean Girl podcast hosts, Alex Bennett and Jordyn Woodruff, stand by.

This means you can call out your special someone on your public Story without anyone knowing, but the tagged person will still receive the notification that they were mentioned. “Take a spicy Instagram Story and shadow tag him,” they advised.

Another flirt tactic the Barstool Sports reporters suggested was posting a “thirst trap”, aka a risqué photo, to your Close Friends List with only your crush on the list.

Shadow tags are not related to shadow banning, the term coined by users for the unofficial ban that restricts an account’s visibility. Some users claim their profile’s reach is limited by Instagram due to several reasons, including inappropriate use of hashtags. The platform reportedly clarified that shadow bans are not practiced – it’s all a myth.

Photo by BARBARA DEBOUT/AFP via Getty Images

How to secretly tag

To shadow tag a user or apply a hashtag:

  1. Go to your feed and click on your profile icon on the top left to add a Story.
  2. Capture a photograph or add an existing image by clicking on your photo album on the bottom right.
  3. Type your desired tag or hashtag.
  4. Select the color wheel icon at the top to change the color of the text.
  5. Click on the color picker icon – it should be the first icon on the bottom color selection
  6. Drag the picker onto the location where you want to place your hidden tag – this ensures your writing is the same color as the photo, so it is invisible to the viewer.
  7. Once the color is selected, click Done.
  8. Drag the tag to the correct location so it blends seamlessly into the background.

An alternative method is to drag the tag off the screen completely, so it still exists but is not apparent to your audience. Just ensure you do not accidentally drag it down into the trash bin.

In other news, What is Google Bard and how do I sign up to the waiting list?