Instagram is one of the most downloaded and widely used apps around the world. Most would agree that the dopamine-gamification of the “like” button is what makes Instagram so addictive. Those who post a photo closely watch how many people like it and specifically who. This digital leaderboard is the glue that keeps users stuck to the app. But it has also been criticized for being deleterious, increasing levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
So, in 2019, Instagram announced that the social platform would refrain from externally displaying the like count from profiles and have been testing this behind the scenes for years. This change would allow the user to still see the number and who liked their posts, but externally, no one else will be able to see them.
Instagram has been testing this in phases by removing likes from a small number of accounts at a time. On March 2, Instagram accidentally released a large test to the public, resulting in most users seeing their feed with missing likes. After a few hours and many complaints later, Instagram restored the likes and tweeted that this test was a mistake. Even though this was resolved quickly, it reopened the door to public conversations about this soon to be reality.
The motive for removing likes from the app is to create a less pressurized environment for users. Many are happy about this change because Instagram could be mentally toxic. However, there are also many that are disappointed, especially brands. From a business standpoint, likes express influence, thought-leadership, and sentiment.
There is still a long way to go before Instagram removes likes for good, but what do you think? Will you be happy when Instagram removes likes?