Instagram is making moves to eliminate ‘likes’ and it says it could improve mental health of the social media platform’s users.
With filters, countless hashtags and lengthy videos on IGTV, Instagram has become a hub for sharing arguably the best visuals with friends, family and sometimes unknown friends and foes.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has already been testing hiding likes in seven countries, beginning from Canada, Australia and Ireland. Just on Monday, Instagram kicked off its test run for hiding likes in the UAE where users have started to report that their like counts have been removed.
This new directive that is slowly rolling out is according to the social media platform in a bid to get users to “focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get”.
In line with the new initiative, all likes will eventually be hidden, except for that of the user. That way, when you click your own post, you’ll get a message, along with statistics, that reads: “Only you can see the total number of people who liked your post.”
Here’s the breakdown: when the changes are rolled out across every account, you will still be able to see who has liked a post on a separate window and no more a summary of likes under the shared content.
Like vs Emotional Balance:
Emotional balance advocates are hopeful that this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so users can focus on sharing the things they love. Instagram echoes this in their announcement; “From early tests of this feature, we have found that it encourages some people to undo their comment and share something less hurtful once they have had a chance to reflect.”
It’s about making the platform less toxic for users all around, shifting the focus from how many likes a picture gets to how appealing the content actually is.
Likes vs Mental Wellness:
Mental Health advocates feel positive about this move believing it will improve well-being on the app. It believes Instagram is the most detrimental social networking app for young people’s mental health, which negatively impacts the company’s image.
But other users and psychologists say with constant exposure to this constant stream of perfected images, hiding likes won’t fix much. They fear that bullying, feeling left out and thinking other people’s lives are better than their own might persist.
Likes vs Businesses and brands:
Existing as more than an image-sharing platform, Instagram is also a key marketing tool for influencers, brands, small businesses and celebrities and some of these people do not feel good about the change. This is where it becomes dicey for Instagram as these businesses and brands use likes as a yardstick for wider reach and successful content.
Some users are of the opinion that hiding likes from viewers is simply spoon feeding people who allow what they see on social media affect them. They say people should be strong enough to handle something as meaningless as likes. They fear it would make the platform less interesting and force users to migrate to other social media platforms where likes are not forbidden- a loss for dear Instagram.
This change is not across the board yet and for many, the like count is still visible on Instagram.
What are your thoughts on this move? For better or for worse? Please share with us in the comment section.