Removing the <3 button? Like it!

Angelina Xu ‘21

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With one billion monthly active users, Instagram ranks as the third most popular social media platform, and drastic changes to it arouses great public attention.  Since the beginning of April, Instagram began hiding like counts on posts in Canada, Japan, and Brazil. Hoping to “depressurize Instagram a little bit” and “[making] it a bit less of competition,” Instagram boss Adam Mosseri plans to remove the number of likes visible for some users in the U.S. as well.  While users will still be able to see the number of likes they receive on their posts, these metrics will not be visible to others.

 

As one of the top online platforms that allows users to compare their popularity with others, Instagram has seen a rise in a competitive mindset where users prioritize metrics over free expression on the platform.  Consequently, some pay for fake likes and followers from bots. More seriously, this mindset contributes to mental health issues, especially amongst the most dominant users: teens and young adults.

 

By removing likes and reducing competition on social media, Instagram will promote creativity over popularity.  Additionally, this reduction in competition will reduce the obsession of “getting more likes” on a post, lowering overall addiction of social media.  In recent years, social media platforms have been the center of issues like smartphone overuse. Although social media platforms have announced features that allows users to limit the amount of time they spend on an app, it is more important to reduce the obsession at its roots, rather than setting time limits to curb exposure.

 

In fact, the toxic content that users are exposed to will decrease.  Many celebrities and users utilize Photoshop to perfect their images prior to posting, and it is this content that hurts users psychologically.  By eliminating the drive for posting these types of pictures, Instagram could decrease the exposure to this kind of content. Less users will see “perfect bodies” and think that other people’s lives are better than their own, which are the main contributors to feelings of discontent.  Altogether, it reduces social comparisons (especially for young people) and allows for a start to healthier lifestyles.

 

[1] https://sproutsocial.com/insights/instagram-stats/

[2] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-11-09/instagram-will-remove-likes-from-posts-for-some-u-s-users

[3] https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/11/tech/instagram-likes-going-away/index.html

[4] https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/culture/story/popular-influencer-likes-removing-likes-instagram-65365015