Instagram began hiding post like counts two years ago, in a series of tests across various regions. Instagram has yet to publish the results of those experiments, but Instagram CEO, Adam Mosseri recently explained that the project had been deprioritized due to COVID-19 and has recently been reawakened once again.
For years now, there has been a debate over the pressures of social media and how that could impact the users in various ways. One of the main forms of pressure on social media is the number of likes shown on a post by you or a fellow user. Since 2019, Instagram has been slowly testing the feature of hiding likes on users' posts and conducting a study on reducing anxiety, depression, and embarrassment for its users, especially for the younger demographic.
Negative Impact of Likes
After a pause due to COVID-19, Instagram is revisiting the idea to hide likes on the app to see how that could impact the users’ mental health and overall well-being. Likes are often used to compare how popular one user is over the other, driving people to make edits of themselves and their surroundings. For example, Khloe Kardashian posted a photo of herself that was unedited, and then immediately made many efforts for it to be removed from the internet because it did not look like the regular, heavily glossed version of her image she presents online. The rise of filters and effects available is thought to have been a result of the race to get the most likes on a post.
What We “like” About Likes
On the other hand, likes are a meaningful indicator of the performance of business accounts and different companies, especially for those social media managers tracking to see what works and what does not work. Likes help those who work in social media tell what types of posts perform the best and which ones need to be changed. Of course, there are many other ways to tell but this is a huge part of the job that can change the way business is done. Many other users also stated that they wanted to keep likes to help track what was trending and popular.
Once Instagram starts to test this feature, they will give users the choice to opt-in and choose to hide the likes, giving them more freedom with what they want to view on their feeds. This is a great opportunity for brands and individuals to further customize their app and improve the quality of the social media experience. Social media is a perfectly imperfect world and it is crucial for social media creators to receive feedback from those people who use it the most.