In a test to hopefully boost the self-esteem and overall mental health of users, Instagram will begin to remove the “like” function from posts. While nothing is solidified yet, select users will begin to see a lack of numbers in relation to their posts.
Rather than viewing specific numbers, terms that coincide with numbers will be shown instead. For example, if Beyonce receives four million likes on a photo, the photo will instead read that “millions of others including people you follow" have liked her photo.
Several countries including Canada and Australia have already seen the effects of Instagram’s recent update.
Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said in an interview with Wired that he hopes to remove the pressure from the app. By removing likes, it removes societal pressures to have “enough” likes.
“I think what Instagram is trying to do is it’s trying to solve different problems with the platform that it didn’t intend but have happened anyway,” said Kelly Kane, graduate student in psychology. “And one of those being that people make a lot of social comparisons on Instagram.”
Since Instagram’s launch, the social media platform has seen an increase in influencers, or individuals who receive a multitude of likes with the hope of influencing others with their social media status. Influencers may be representing a brand or way of life and are well-known for being a person with a certain identity.
Brands also play into the influencer game, hoping to gain new followers through the likes of a celebrity endorsing their product. This is especially popular during the holidays when brands are trying to sell certain products just in time for Christmas.
“I think in the short-term, I do believe that some influencers are going to be hurt by this decision,” Kane said.
Kane said she believes it’ll be more difficult for influencers to prove their prominence on the app to potential advertisers or brands who want to do business with them with the removal of likes.
Through the change, Kane said she hopes to see more positivity on posts.
“I also hope that we’re going to see more positive commenting and positive conversation on people’s posts,” Kane said. “Instagram, like all social media platforms, it has a lot of problems of people being very negative; it’s very easy to say negative things to someone who isn’t in the same room as you, which is part of the reason that social media is a real phenomenon. People are meaner in social media than they are in person.”
Users will be able to view likes from their personal accounts, so they’re technically not completely gone.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, tried testing out a similar method with posts in September, but there wasn’t as much feedback or publicity as compared to Instagram. If there’s a positive reaction to Instagram’s newest update, potentially more social media platforms will also implement factors that create a more positive environment.
“We will make decisions that will hurt the business if they help people’s well-being and health,” Mosseri said in the Wired interview.