Real Talk

Are We Saying Goodbye

to Instagram Likes?

by Maria Romero, May 07, 2019 5:00pm

Art by Ahl Mirambel

Real Talk

Are We Saying Goodbye to Instagram Likes?

by Maria Romero, May 07, 2019 5:00pm
Art by Ahl Mirambel

Social media has become an important part of our generation’s life. It allows people to communicate with others easily, provides entertainment, and keeps them updated on the latest news and trends around the world. It uses an algorithm to monitor or predict the users' needs and wants especially in marketing and advertising. This has become a reality in 2014, Thailand’s Department of Health announced social media posts as a threat to their country’s development. According to Thai Health Secretary, social media addiction could affect the development of the country’s new-generation leaders, hindering Thailand’s innovation by depending on the validation of social media as self-worth.

We are in a digital world where the number of likes in a person’s social media account is almost equivalent to the user’s worth. It can’t be denied that even brands developed a habit of buying fake Instagram accounts to inflate their engagement stats on the platform artificially. But what if social media platforms revolutionize the way we experience the digital world by removing the number of likes on posts?

Last November 2018, Instagram took a crackdown on fake followers, news of the platform’s unreleased feature removing the number of likes on a post made tractions online. Reverse-engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong known for uncovering hidden capabilities of social media services has spotted the feature.

According to Wong, the mobile photo-sharing app is not removing the “like” feature; they are only testing a new feature that will hide the number of likes; keeping the stats only visible to the post owner. The experiment wants the user and followers to focus on what they share and not how many likes their posts get. The “internal prototype” is yet to be released, but talks on its possible effects in the digital world are heating up.

Other on-test Instagram features spotted by Wong include karaoke-style lyrics in sync with stories, chat thread stickers for Direct Messages, and shopping bag for commerce to name a few.

What could happen once Instagram’s number of likes is removed?

The Pros

This feature signals Instagram’s way of reducing pressure on its users. Once this feature is released to the public, Instagram users may soon have a more genuine interaction with their real people followers instead of the paid and fake followers. Purchased likes will also no longer matter by then to brands and personalities whose main reason for going to Instagram is to acquire a high engagement in terms of likes and following.

As long as there are numbers to measure a person’s followers, likes, and views online, the popularity contest will never end. But with this new feature, we may soon put an end to this virtual competition.

In the absence of likes, people might then come to a user’s comment sections to show interests in their content—that could lead to a deeper conversation than mere likes. Since the number of likes is only visible to each user, comparing a user’s social media standing would then be impossible—helpful for the user’s mental well-being in addition to other positive health benefitsthe social media brought.

The Cons

Instagram is not necessarily removing the “like” feature; they are just experimenting with hiding the like count to everyone else. And on the flip side, people might mindlessly post mediocre content and stop focusing on producing quality online content. In Instagram, likes matter because its the first contact between a business and its new follower—making it easier for people to appreciate one’s post.

Without the visible number of likes, users might now focus on the number of followers. But then last year, Instagram already made their move to crackdown bots and other fake followers especially on accounts with a huge following. In case buying followers become rampant again, we can only hope Instagram will take actions again.

Some users, especially those using Instagram business accounts, are speculating to see drastic effects on the platform’s business side with this possible new feature. For brands and influencers, beating Instagram’s new algorithm is already a challenge, and with the absence of like counts, they might have to face another dilemma. For instance, a brand might compare their engagements from its competitor. In case Instagram pushes through with this new feature, marketers will be more affected than the individuals.

Social media has an important role in every person’s life—even a free government needs social media to function—we need to create a healthy social media environment. Will this possible new Instagram feature brings us one step closer to a healthier social media atmosphere?


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