THUMBS DOWN group of influencers

Why I Dislike Instagram’s Hiding Likes

By: Carmen Collins, Senior Social Media & Talent Brand Manager, Cisco

November 25, 2019

I’m pretty sure Instagram hates me. I’m always the last account to get the coolest functionality updates, and now, I’m one of the first accounts in the U.S. to be in the test pool for hiding likes in the newsfeed.

And the verdict is…I dislike hiding likes.

This might be because I inherently distrust Facebook; I’ve always figured that they’d kill the fun parts of Instagram at some point down the line. But if we put on our thinking caps, their story and their reasoning just doesn’t add up.

Instagram’s head honcho Adam Mosseri has said that the change is meant to help us O.C.D. people not to be so O.C.D. about how many likes we get on an Instagram post. Now, I’m not as bad as the folks who will remove a post if it doesn’t get a certain number of likes in the first few hours, but I will get a tad upset if I post a brilliant photo in my feed and it only gets 10 likes when I next check (which is likely in a few hours, as I’m not looking every 10 minutes).

For me, the claim that hiding likes will protect our mental health just doesn’t add up. Here’s why:

1) I can still see my own likes with an extra click. Instagram has simply manufactured frustration for people who are already easily frustrated, and who still get distraught when the fabulous photo they posted isn’t getting much love.

2) Much of the engagement on Instagram has moved into Stories. Users can still get instant gratification when they see how many people have viewed each Story slide.

3) I agree with Cardi B on this one. The real mental health issue—bullying—can be addressed in the comments.

So I’m not buying the reasoning they’re selling. As it stands, the feed seems less exciting, less engaging and less about the “connections” Instagram and parent company Facebook say they want to foster.

This is the beginning of the reach-pocolypse for the Instagram newsfeed (and the reason Stories is already engaging more followers than the newsfeed, because the algorithm has tightened so much).

At the end of the day, brands, influencers and third-party metrics tools can still see Instagram engagement numbers, so why hide the likes and make a grand announcement for naught? Because, as a tech monolith, Facebook cares about one thing: making a profit. This is their way of easing us into the pay-to-play model that feeds their bottom line.

Am I less likely to “like” something if I can’t see how many people liked a post before me? Personally, I don’t brainlessly tap through my feed, liking only the most popular posts….so, no. Am I less perturbed about the fantabulous photo on my feed that no one liked? No, because I can still see the numbers and now, I’m perturbed by the extra step.

If removing likes was truly an effort to make social media a happier place, Instagram would’ve focused on trolls or bullying. But this is a veiled attempt at killing an organic newsfeed. It’s too bad for social media users that one of the reasons Instagram succeeded in the first place is being manipulated for the bottom line.

Follow Carmen: @CShirkeyCollins





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