Instagram removing likes

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What Instagram will look like without likes

Madyson Lawson, Staff Writer

Back in 2019, Instagram had announced that they were taking away likes to lessen the impact it had on their users’ mental health. The likes on the post wouldn’t disappear entirely — they would just not be visible to one’s followers. The idea was that users would feel less toxic pressure over the amount of likes their post got compared to others.

Of course, brands and influencers were not happy about this change or any account that earned their living off of engagement. Adam Mosseri, the CEO of Instagram, stated that the well-being of Instagram users was far more important to the social media platform itself. 

“We will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s well-being and health,” said Mosseri, according to Wired. “When we look at the world of public content we’re going to put people in the world before organizations and corporations.”

However, Instagram has seemingly only tested this new feature out on some of its users. According to “Instagram is testing out removing likes” by Mary Meisenzahl, Instagram has already been testing this new feature out in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand, which began as of July 2019. As of March 2, 2021, they started unintentionally spreading the feature to many unexpecting users in the U.S. as well.

It’s clear that most brands and influencers need likes for business purposes, but for the average person, it’s easy to look at likes as a number that isn’t big enough or even as a confidence boost. And while there is a cause for concern in regards to the unhealthy obsession with likes, it hasn’t stopped users around the world from seeking validation through those numbers. When many users started noticing that the feature was disabled, panic arised. 

The matter was quickly addressed on Twitter via the Instagram PR account stating that, “This week we unintentionally launched private like counts to a lot of people, our apologies. The idea is clearly polarizing, so we’re looking for a way to bring the idea to people who want it and not to those who don’t,” wrote Instagram (@Instagram) March 5, 2021. 

The app took immediate action and restored likes to those who experienced the bug. For many users, it was less about the likes and more about the principle. Many users love using social media because of the familiarity of the platforms, so when things change most users are bound to have a reaction. Not to mention there are many reasons people use and rely on the app. Many brands and influencers rely on engagement as intel for their content plans. And disrupting a system that has been put in place for many years without any warning seems unfair to the millions of users.

Although the intentions are positive and could potentially benefit some, will it really benefit everyone? Without likes there are still many other ways for users to compare themselves. As long as comments stay intact many opportunities for comparison and negative actions or thoughts can still be accessible.

There have been numerous studies on the correlation between mental health and social media platforms, but it’s still unclear if hiding likes will resolve those issues—social media presents many other ways for its users to be negatively affected and it’s not always at the fault of likes.