Instagram to trial hiding likes

Likes are how this social media platform’s users show their approval of a post. A simple double tap drives a whole industry of influencers who make a living of publishing carefully curated, filtered and captioned snapshots of their lives and sponsored content online. Could this all be about to change?

In early May, Instagram will run a trial which will remove Canadian users’ ability to see the number of likes on other users’ photos, or views on their videos. The social media giant has stated they “want your followers to focus on what you share.. not how many likes your posts get.” This will change how we use the app, for better or worse, and may also have positive health implications for users.

Given that Instagram has also come under significant scrutiny in recent times for its negative impact on mental health, it is reassuring to see the outlet is adjusting its features to improve user experience. For example, the change could prevent people from posting particular types of content for the sole basis of attracting visible likes, as well as lower the impact of herd mentality, where users are subconsciously persuaded to ‘like’ posts because they already have a lot of likes.

While there will be positive implications, of course influencers stand to lose a lot, should the test be implemented as a feature of the app for all users. During the Canadian trial, Instagram will closely monitor how powerful users are affected. “We understand that it is important for many creators, and while this test is in exploratory stages, we are thinking through ways for them to communicate value to their brand partners” through an Instagram spokesperson has said.

What do we think? We say this is a commendable development to reduce the impact of validation culture, and hopefully the focus for users will turn to producing quality content and connecting with audiences, rather than chasing likes on each post. Agencies’ abilities to demonstrate page engagement to clients will remain unaffected, and this engagement should remain steady. We’ll see engagement shift to story views, comments and follow count, rather than be lost from the platform totally. Businesses who rely on the platform to share content and conduct business need not be alarmed, as follower counts and comments will remain visible.

Source: abc.net.au and elle.com.au