Instagram just announced on Twitter that they will hide the like counts on your photos. Well, for some of you. This polarizing, Kim Kardashian-endorsed proposal to make the amount of “Likes” a photo receives visible to only the original poster has been quietly tested with select users in other countries over the past few months – now it’s our turn.
Not all, but some (presumably random) users across the globe may see a difference in how “Likes” are displayed. Users experiencing this beta will no longer be able to see the number of “Likes” someone else’s photo receives. A move by corporate to improve user health, as it’s been suggested that publicly measuring the popularity of a post may contribute to social anxiety. Instagram wants you to “focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.” Don’t worry, you still have the option to double-tap your own photo to see who has liked it.
Instagram alleges that early testing in Australia, Brazil, Canada, among other countries “has been positive.” They did not offer further explanation on how this conclusion was reached.
What does this mean?
On an individual level, the ramifications for such a shift appear relatively minor. Basically, you won’t know when your boyfriend/girlfriend likes someone else’s post… However, the photo-sharing app is crucial to businesses, having generated over $9 billion in ad revenue in 2018 alone. Companies and the popular content creators they contract to advertise products/services rely on “Likes” to gauge potential ROI. How this new development will affect this dynamic remains unclear.
“We will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s well-being and health,” said Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri. A bold claim, but is this all just a desperate PR grab for some good press? Let’s not forget that only last month, Facebook – which purchased Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 – CEO Mark Zuckerberg was forced to testify before Congress regarding several concerns, namely how the company is monitoring the redistribution of fake news across their platform.
Maybe this new approach will actually be good for teens, 52% of whom reportedly use Instagram. Adolescence is hard enough without offering a number to measure someone’s popularity.