It’s happened. Instagram has removed the counter that shows how many ‘likes’ our posts are receiving.
And so far, the reaction is… resoundingly positive.
This may seem trivial, but it’s actually such a big deal that even Time magazine is covering it!
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It’s only being rolled out in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand so far – Canada got de-liked a few months ago – and it’s apparently a ‘trial’ at this stage. It’s designed to see if hiding the amount of likes a post gets will help remove some of the toxicity and competition that dominates the platform.
This is such a brilliant step in the right direction as it’s going to work towards cutting that self-esteem/self-worth feedback loop that is so intrinsically tied to the popularity of our posts.
No matter how confident or self-assured you are as a person, it’s very hard to completely divorce yourself from the seductive, quantifiable feeling that a “popular” post gives you.
So imagine how hard it is to process social media if you’re not confident or self-assured… or, for instance, you’re an impressionable teenager?
As personal trainer James Smith, who has a massive Insta following of almost 400k, pointed out: “There are teenagers who post [and] then delete the post if it doesn’t hit a certain amount of likes in a certain timeframe and quite frankly, that’s f*cked… Posts should be based on the impression it could leave for someone else, not how many double taps or likes it get.”
The big winners here are, obviously, those of us who don’t enjoy that sinking feeling of despair when a post doesn’t resonate and gets limited likes.
The big losers are going to be “influencers”, who feed off massive likes in order to boost their brand.
It reminds me of when Facebook changed their algorithms to prioritise embedded content, rather than outward links; thousands of businesses lost traffic overnight, and with it their hefty revenue streams.
Instagram influencers may be set to suffer the same fate. “I’m here to run a business [and] they’re taking a tool away that’s really important for us,” laments Perth influencer Jem Wolfie.
This could be the case. But at the end of the day, Instagram is meant to be about sharing and adding value to our lives – so removing some of the more toxic elements can only be a good thing.