BIZ-CPT-INSTAGRAM-GET

Instagram getting rid of likes is a good thing.

No likes, just vibes — that’s Instagram’s new policy in a nutshell. In efforts to reduce the social media pressure users may feel while using the app, Instagram is conducting a global experiment involving hiding likes from users. This essentially means, while the creator of a post will have the ability to view the exact amount of likes the post received, other users will only see a list of other accounts they follow who’ve liked the post and “others,” keeping the number of likes hidden from the poster’s followers.

If this change becomes permanent — which, according to CNN, is a possibility — it would mean a complete rebranding of Instagram. While Instagram was originally created for the purpose of sharing photos, the experience a user gets through the app is most likely different than the founder’s intentions. Much of Instagram revolves around the response a post receives rather than the content of the post itself. Sometimes, users will even delete a post if it hasn’t generated what they deem a sufficient level of response from their intended audience. This has become the nature of the app — only posting “perfect” pictures for the perfect response from one’s followers. 

This shift would also involve a large change for those who use the app for business. Social influencers could likely lose at least some of their fame as the huge number of likes that separates an influencer from an average user disappears into thin air. Advertisers could also be negatively impacted, as consumers may be more likely to purchase a product if they’re able to see it’s accumulated a positive response from other users. However, it could be argued that advertisements and influencers negatively impact users’ experiences on Instagram. It’s hard to find someone who actually likes to see sponsored ads show up in their feed, and influencers play a large part of the picture-perfect lifestyle that the app is attempting to change. While the new policy may negatively affect the minority who financially capitalize off of the site, the millions of average users could reap the benefits. 

While Instagram won’t become perfect overnight from this policy, it could certainly generate a fair impact against the pressure to feel “perfect” on social media. Although the largest aspect of this issue is the seemingly perfect posts so many users frequently upload, if likes are hidden, it could encourage users to post a larger variety of content that they might not post otherwise, lowering the social insecurity a user may experience from the app. 

2019 FCS Playoffs - JMU

The overall goal behind hiding likes is to make Instagram “the safest place on the internet,” according to Wired. While hiding likes is certainly beneficial to users and a step in the process to achieving this goal, it’s only the first step. Instagram has a track record for slow and ineffective reporting processes when users report harassment on its site, according to The Atlantic. In fact, Instagram’s hate and body-shaming has even affected  the third-most followed person on Instagram, famous singer, Selena Gomez. Gomez  temporarily deleted Instagram due to hateful comments on posts about her weight change, which is a direct result of having Lupus, an incurable disease that lead to Gomez undergoing a kidney transplant this year, according to Shape . 

If the beautiful and famous Selena Gomez can be harrassed on Instagram, no one’s safe. Hiding the amount of likes a post receives is certainly a step in the right direction to eliminating social media pressure and giving users the online experience they deserve, but this is one step on what will likely be a very long journey to make Instagram “the safest place on the internet.” 

Allie Boulier is a freshman biology major. Contact Allie at boulieas@dukes.jmu.edu.