By Nate Kammerer
In July 2019, Instagram decided to start hiding the likes on posts. The social media giant began testing the feature in several countries across the globe in a larger effort to improve the mental health and self esteem of users, especially young people.
Last year, the platform boasted a massive one billion monthly users, most of them being below the age of 30. The pressure of social media, especially on Instagram, can have serious effects on users, and the competitive environment of these sites can be detrimental to users’ confidence.
Similarly, tech companies like Facebook, Google and Apple have introduced screen time limiting features in recent years. Tech giants are implementing new methods of curbing social media obsession and improving mental health.
The owner of Instagram said in a statement that the purpose of the international tests are to “remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive.” Instagram hopes that the proposed changes will help users focus more on the content being posted on the platform instead of the amount of likes the post gets.
Under the new feature, Instagram users will be able to see how many likes their posts get, but other users will not. When scrolling through their feed, instead of seeing how many likes each post has, users will only see “liked by (a username) and others.” When users tap to see who liked the post, they will be able to see the same list, but there will be no total number of likes. Instagram believes this new initiative will relieve stress within the platform and make it a less hostile environment for young users.
According to a survey conducted by the social media marketing company Hootsuite, 72% of U.S. teens use Instagram. The survey also found that people who use Instagram “like” over 4 billion posts everyday. Whether or not social media praise is significant to you personally, likes still play a substantial role in the everyday lives of social media users.
Critics of the proposed changes argue that the new feature will reduce involvement on the platform, but users in countries like Canada and Australia are already seeing positive changes in the way they interact with the app. Users report that hiding likes is making Instagram a personal and healthy environment for people on the site.