What does it take for you to like, comment, send/share, or save a post on Instagram? I want you to think about that, write down some thoughts, and read on. Also, stick around until the end if you want to understand how the “hiding likes” concept will work.
With the announcement of Instagram taking away the visibility of likes for some US accounts, there have been many celebrities voicing their opinions. Some even going as far as refusing to post on the app anymore.
As one of the most, if not the most, popular social apps, I can see both sides of the argument. As users, we ultimately don’t have final say, so I think it’s important to remain objective and keep an open mind.
The test of hiding a users total likes has now been experimented in seven countries, including Brazil, Canada, and Italy. Results must not have been terrible, otherwise the tests wouldn’t be reaching new countries like the US.
According to an article posted by Wired, “Hiding engagement metrics will make it harder to determine whose follower count is legitimate.” It may make finding authentic users more difficult, but likes are not the only telltale sign of “fake” followers.
Instagram CEO, Adam Mosseri, says his desired outcome in removing likes and adjusting the algorithm is to improve the mental and emotional health of users, and rid of offensive comments and photos on the platform. He believes taking a step to reduce public metrics will eventually make Instagram a safer place for everyone.
I can side with removing offensive or inappropriate comments and photos, but I think the social pressure concerns are a “user error” based on individuals’ experiences with their own mental health. It’s true that you can get discouraged scrolling through someone’s feed because their life looks so glamorous in comparison to your own, but A) you never know what’s going behind the scenes, and B) close out of the app. If something in your control is causing you pain, why keep using it?
According to NPR, Mosseri wants to shift focus from the larger companies/accounts, “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.”
Then in the Wired article, Mosseri puts the emphasis on individuals when he states, “It means we’re going to put a 15-year-old kid’s interests before a public speaker’s interest,” he says. “When we look at the world of public content, we’re going to put people in that world before organizations and corporations.”
I think there will be a major learning curve for accounts and users who use the platform for publicity and business. Per a poll I took on Instagram, 77% answered they are keeping an open mind about removing likes, the other 23% are not so thrilled. When asked why or why not the removal of likes, the primary responses were either users feeling relieved of the pressure to post and perform well, or ultimately that there are more important things in the world than how many people engage with their content.
Personally, I didn’t expect to be indifferent to this change. I enjoy interacting with others on their posts and my own, and I find it interesting how certain times of day and certain types of content determine how many likes you get. My favorite use of Instagram is being inspired by the high quality content of other users, and I think that limiting like visibility will promote that higher quality content.
If you fall on the optimistic side of the hidden likes dilemma, I have an article that may further promote your positive spirit. If you’re not happy with these new changes, this article may change your mind.
The questions I’m looking forward to answering are:
- What will happen to accounts who rely on likes and engagement? (I.e. celebrities, organizations, influencers, etc…)
- How will “like” removal affect the standard social accounts with less than tens of thousands followers?
- Will hiding likes promote comment-based engagement?
- What will be the new metric for how engaging posts are?
- Will comments remain visible? (In the interest of ridding of put-downs and snide comments)
- Will removing likes truly decrease the mental/emotional strain from the comparison game?
Still not sure what “hidden likes” means? In short, I will be able to see a total count of likes on my own photos, but I won’t be able to see the total of any other accounts’ likes. But you will be able to click on any given post and see who likes it. If that still isn’t crystal clear for you, click here to read a more in depth post that may answer some of your questions, and provides some visuals of the new Instagram layout!
Please feel free to share your thoughts and perspectives! I am interested in starting this conversation about Instagram’s soon-to-be new norm.