In an update last Wednesday (July 17), Instagram announced that users in select countries will no longer be able to see the number of likes on posts or the number of views on videos made by other users.
According to the company’s official Twitter account, the update aims to direct users’ attention back to the content posted rather than the number of likes they receive on their posts. “We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get,” the company tweeted.
We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get. You can still see your own likes by tapping on the list of people who've liked it, but your friends will not be able to see how many likes your post has received.
— Instagram (@instagram) July 17, 2019
Users can still see the number of likes and views on their own posts.
Instagram is currently testing the update on seven countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand.
The announcement was not well received by netizens with many saying that they did not ask for such a feature. Netizens also commented that instead of the new update, Instagram should have just returned the posts feed to a chronological timeline.
Many Instagram “influencers” were disappointed with the announcement, arguing that the update will greatly affect the way they promote their personal brands and businesses. One social media expert said that the new feature would make it difficult for brands to assess how effective a particular influencer is in posting content and spreading brand awareness.
I think the #instagramlikes thing is a huge mistake. If you can't see likes you are far less likely to 'like' an image. That reduces interaction, which is death for an interactive platform.
— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw) July 18, 2019
Zak Hasleby, an influencer with over 90,000 followers, said “I think it’ll be really hard to start being an influencer.”
Even though an influencer has a lot of followers, that does not mean their posts are effective in promoting content.
Brands use selects key metrics to assess how a post performs: post engagement rate (post interactions divided by follower count), impressions (number of times the content was served to users), and reach (number of unique accounts that saw the content).
In an interview with Hack, social media agent Jules Lund said that “Influencer marketing is enabling brands to turn influencer posts into advertising … I allow my content to be turned into an ad… In many ways [this week’s change] puts the focus back on content. It will create less pressure for users to post content and they’ll feel less judged.”
Other influencers with a smaller number of followers were more optimistic about the change since they can now focus on creating better content without competing with the big name celebrities for likes.
I’m actually looking forward to the new instagram update that hides likes cause then we can focus on the actual content rather than just the numbers.
— ida ☻ (@idaandu) July 20, 2019
Idk why everyone's complaining about this. I love the idea! It's healthy esp. for the younger generation who mostly thinks that their worth depends on the amount of likes they get. And sometimes do stupid things just to get stupid likes. #instagramlikes pic.twitter.com/uViu9zINwt
— Angelica⁷ ⟭⟬ 🐳 (@Physio_AJ) July 18, 2019
According to a 2017 study by the Royal Society for Public Health, Instagram was found to be the worst social media platform for teens and young adults’ mental health. Regular and continued use of the platform has been associated with high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and FOMO (“fear of missing out”).
“Seeing friends constantly on holiday or enjoying nights out can make young people feel like they are missing out while others enjoy life… These feelings can promote a ‘compare and despair’ attitude,” the report stated.
While it is not clear how Instagram will measure the test results, the new update could possibly be a step in the right direction towards managing social media addiction. -/TISG