Last week, Instagram announced that they would be extending plans to hide likes and views into six countries, including the likes of Australia, Ireland and Japan. The aim of this “test” is to ultimately “reduce pressure” on users and increase focus on the content itself, rather than the numbers it generates. The positive effect it could have on mental health, in young people specifically, is of course the driver for this change. But will hiding likes make Instagram a happier place to be?
First off, I know what you’re thinking… Won’t somebody please think of the influencers!?
Well, Instagram have – in 2015, an 18-year-old Australian star with more than 612k followers quit Instagram after describing it as “contrived perfection made to get attention”. She also revealed how she obsessively checked her own like count, she claimed it “consumed her”.
Instagram is not the first social channel to make changes in the fight to “protect” users mental state. Twitter recently revealed that they would sensor and hide abusive tweets and YouTube have added a box at the top of the comments section which reminds users to be “kind” and to read the community guidelines. Instagram themselves had a further announcement that they would give users the opportunity to “rethink” their comment before posting, with a pop up if they felt the post had an abusive feel to it.
The overwhelming feeling from many social media experts around Instagram’s move is that, as social media users, we will start focusing more on the “quality” of the post as they will no longer be publicly "ranked" / judged by a metric. It may also result in us “liking” less posts now that a 'like' is a less important/obvious part of the platform.
There is no doubt social media and how we use the platforms is changing, whether it is for the better, for now, is down to interpretation. But it’s interesting to note how many people feel that if their likes aren’t publicly visible, they may as well not be there at all.