The biggest news shaking up the world of social media (and if you’ve not heard about this yet, have you been living under a rock?) is the planned trial removal of “Likes” on Instagram.
That’s right, the social network giant is testing out a new feature that would hide how many Likes you have on your post from the public. Only the poster of the content would be able to see the Like count, whilst followers and public user would only see one named user “and others” likes this. Instagram are encouraging users to focus on the content itself, instead of the response. Perhaps this is an attempt by Instagram to reduce the amount of fake accounts circulating their network and focus more on authentic growth.
But what has the response been? Well much like opinions about social media in general, it’s a very mixed bag. This news is following ongoing claims of users becoming too obsessed with number of Likes, often relating the number to their own self-worth. A recent report from the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health found an enormous amount of negative psychological effects linked to excessive social media use, including anxiety, depression, loneliness and sleep deprivation. There are hopes that the removal of the self-worth association with number of likes will reduce the negative mental health impact. This change in the network could help promote the positive opportunities that social media has to offer, like community, authenticity and self-expression.
On the flip side of things, there has been a huge negative outcry from the influencer community. For many of these influencers, Likes directly correlate with their income. With these changes, businesses will have to change the way they make decisions about sponsorship. Influencers and businesses alike will be forced to focus much more on other measure of success, like follower count, comments and post frequency.
Instagram are even considering removing metrics on Stories, which were the inspiration for the change. This all comes after Twitter CEO discussed the possibility of removing follower counts from their network.
Currently the trial is only happening in Canada, so influencers globally are holding their breath to see if it will roll out worldwide. Will these changes affect the constant need for validation in our modern life? Or will users simply switch to a new measurement? Only time will tell.
Let us know what YOU think about Instagram’s Like removal in the comments.