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Instagram May Soon Be Getting Rid Of Your Likes! Here Is What You Need To Know.

If you have an Instagram account, then you have definitely posted something on the platform and gone back every couple of minutes to check how many likes your post raked in, whether it was a selfie, quote, video or meme. Likes have always been a huge part of post validation on Instagram since the beginning, and the platform has always served as a host for some popularity contests. Studies have shown that receiving that notification of each “little red heart” you get sends a rush of dopamine to the brain, leaving us happy, motivated and wanting to create and post similar likeable content. On the other hand, not getting any post likes has torn down some people and brands, leaving them feeling humiliated.

A few months ago, news leaked that the Facebook owned Instagram wanted to run a test in which they would hide the number of likes you get on a post, so as to encourage users to focus on the content rather than popularity. Instagram head Adam Mosseri later confirmed the news in a statement saying,

“We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they're getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about.”

"We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love," Mia Garlick, Facebook Australia and New Zealand director of policy, also said in a statement addressing the announcement.

Instagram has since started rolling out the “test” to hide the number of likes on a post so it’s not just a plan anymore, it’s happening people! They kicked off the test in Canada sometime in May this year, then added New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Ireland, Brazil and Italy to the list of test countries a few days ago. Currently, obviously for us who are not yet part of that test, when you look at your post on Instagram, it says, “Liked by Charity and 1,568 others.” In the test, it will read “Liked by Charity and others.” You will still be able to see the number of people who liked your post but you’d have to tap through the post. The rest of us however, will not be able to see how many likes you got, so we won’t know who is winning that popularity contest.

If we are being honest, social capital and influence is a real thing. People will listen to and trust an individual who has more followers than they would one with less, though the two might be saying the exact same thing. Likewise, people will click through a post that already has a lot of likes compared to one with fewer likes, though again, the two posts might be identical. Likes on Instagram have for a long time contributed to building perceptions and creating trust.

This move by Instagram has obviously been met by a lot of mixed feelings. Some people are in full support of hiding post likes as they believe that the obsession people and brands have for likes is turning us into a self absorbed society. The move also comes after the platform was described as the most detrimental social media platform to young people’s mental health by a 2017 study done by the Royal Society for Public Health, in the U.K. On the other hand, there are influencers who charge brands and get paid for the content they showcase in their posts. Their success and relevance has also been measured by the number of likes their social media posts draw, which leaves a huge cloud of uncertainty over the influencer economy. One Melbourne influencer, Mikaela Testa, even broke down in tears online over the announcement.

The big question is how is this going to affect individuals, influencers and businesses? Look out for the next article in this series, which will answer this question in depth.

Written by Charity Mbofana


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