What would an Instagram without Likes be like? The Facebook owned company has been testing this in select countries like Canada and Australia with plans to do the same with Facebook.
The goal is to reduce the pressure and stress people feel on these social media platforms to maximize their likes. In social media culture, Likes generally denote popularity with people obsessing over stuff such as what kinds of content to share that people will like the most, what is the optimal time to post so more people see their pictures and whether or not to take a photo down because it didn’t get enough Likes. A Like, almost the equivalent of a hit of dopamine, encourages people to look beyond themselves for validation. Measuring popularity also encourages unhealthy levels of comparison among users. This has all led to mental health and self-esteem issues, particularly for younger users.
Instagram and Facebook are hoping to curb this. But will such a change fundamentally alter the experience of these platforms? Some fear it will take away business from influencers who make careers out of posting, especially those who depend on the number of Likes they get rather than their follower count to get them deals and endorsements from businesses. It could also make it harder to discern authenticity on Instagram since people would no longer be able to compare someone’s Likes to their follower count to see if they bought their followers rather than gained them organically. Finally, and perhaps most importantly for site developers, would Instagram and Facebook lose their appeal without the ability for other people to see how many Likes you have/how popular you are?
Some people argue that these changes could actually increase authenticity on the sites by encouraging people to post more of what they actually like, rather than what they believe will garner them the most Likes. Others believe businesses should adapt and start looking beyond the Likes of a potential influencer sponsor as these can be superficial, casual ‘double taps’ that don’t necessarily signify a person’s appeal/popularity.
Instagram and Facebook are still testing out the shift and analysing feedback before making the change permanently. But don’t be surprised if you log on one day and, gasp, see that those coveted number counts have disappeared altogether.