“Likes” were introduced in social media to appreciate and applaud other people, but they have become the basis of competition and the measure of self-worth.
Instagram has decided to save users from the anxiety by hiding the number of likes under a post from the social media platform. It is another move from the company to make it cyberbullying free and a safer online place.
The new test, which first started in May in Canada, hides the exact count of likes under a post, but the users are still able to see who liked the picture. You can see the number on your posts but only “and others liked the post” will be displayed under the posts made by other people. This move is a part of Instagram’s wellness project which has been prioritized by the current CEO, Adam Mosseri. The company believes that it will increase the overall environment of the platform and thus decided to launch the feature in six more countries later in July. The list of these countries includes Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and Brazil. Instagram also announced that this design tweak will reach some US users last month.
Numerous studies have shown that social media is bad for the mental health of young adults and Instagram especially contributes to this pressure as teenagers measure their self-worth by comparing the number of likes their post and their friend’s post has got. That is the reason many other platforms like Twitter and Facebook along with Instagram have also worked on hiding performance metrics from the posts and changing its likes policy.
Adam Mosseri commented on the move during Wired 25, “Right now, we’re testing making like counts private, so you’ll be able to see how many people liked a given photo of yours or a video of yours, but no one else will.”
He further clarified the company’s motive by saying:
“It’s about young people, the idea is to try to ‘depressurize’ Instagram, make it less of a competition and give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love, things that inspire them.”
However, there is another reason for this change. Facebook’s Growth and Data Science teams hypothesize that this change will get users to post more, according to the report by CNBC. they say that hiding likes will make people less conscious upon getting fewer likes, resulting in more posts by the users.
Instagram has become popular for businesses as well as influencers who promote their posts to get more people to interact with them. This has also increased the number of posts that are deleted if they don’t get enough likes. Users also tend to create and post similar photos to the ones that get more likes. The company thinks that hiding the number of likes will get people to post more original content which can become viral easily. More people will be interested in using the application this way. Thus, this move is expected to help improve Instagram’s business along with making it more safe and healthy for users.
This design change, however, is not appreciated by many people. There are numerous reasons for it, the major one being the effect that this will have on Instagram influencers whose success is measured by their likes and which are pretty much the only reason they are popular. As expected, the users have expressed their thoughts on Twitter saying that the hiding feature should be made optional or removed.
Outside experts believe the move can have the intended effect. Dylan Farella, director of social media at a Newyork influencer marketing firm named Talent Resources says: “There will be nothing discouraging them from posting more.” Let’s see if this test produces the desired outcome for the photo posting media platform.