Instagram Update Removes Likes


Lexi Capitali

A screenshot of Justin Bieber's Instagram post claiming he would release an album if his post reached a certain amount of likes

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri has decided to test the option of removing the display of likes on Instagram posts in the United States. It was decided the week of Nov. 8 that the number of likes that any post receives will be hidden to users other than the individual who shared the post.

According to The Verge, the removal of likes has already been tested in seven other countries, and, now, officials at Instagram want to test it on the US version of the app. This change is taking place because Instagram is taking steps to reduce the anxiety users may feel from the presence of likes on social media. The update has the potential to significantly hurt the social media platform, as the “likes” structure is a big attraction to the app. According to WIRED, the update is “the latest step in Instagram’s quest to become the safest place on the Internet.”

It was also announced that Instagram is diminishing the “following activity” tab. The tab gave users access to see the posts that people they followed were liking and what they were commenting on others’ posts. The tab caused an issue because users felt that it was an invasion of privacy; therefore, many are glad that the feature has been removed. Many view this as a step in the right direction, especially since Instagram’s goal is to become a safer platform.

Many people were happy with the new updates; however, it caused a disturbance among some users. The absence of likes has some people upset, as many find that the use of likes is the main point of the app. Junior Zoe Mevorah commented, “Honestly, it doesn’t really bother me as much as I thought it would. Personally, I think the number of comments and likes only matters to the individual and not to those who actually like and comment on a post. If anything, it’s truly a good idea, but because of Instagram’s horrid post algorithm, I believe the number of likes is something that many users find entertaining about the app, this can actually motivate people to share a post other than the point of sharing a moment.” While many find the abandonment of likes a terrible idea, others think it provides great relief to users. Teenagers face an increased amount of stress and anxiety from social media, with their number of likes on what they share contributing to this. Teenagers, primarily girls, compare the amount of likes they receive to that of other accounts. This causes them to become insecure and strive to obtain more likes. Instagram’s solution to this issue was the update.

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People who are affected the most by this update are celebrities and Instagram influencers, who get paid every time they post. In addition to earning money, another reason they post photos is for the likes. Justin Bieber claimed that if a certain post on his feed got 20 million likes before Christmas, he would release an album, and now that likes are hidden, we cannot know if that will ever truly happen. Instagram influencers have had issues with this new update since posting on Instagram is their main job. The amount of likes and comments they receive determine their pay. Besides the majority of celebrities and influencers, people on the platform believe the update is a smart idea and are glad Instagram has taken initiative to fix a widespread, ongoing issue.

Senior Caroline Ridings commented in favor of the removal of likes, stating, “I believe that the idea would create an overall positive affect due to the fact that when people post a picture, their main concern is likes.” On Nov. 15, Instagram officially hid likes on the platform to viewers who did not post the picture. Immediately, a significantly positive outcome came from the test. Many people began posting photos with the caption “#makeinstagramcasualagain”. Users no longer cared what their feed looked like, therefore, proving that this might have been a great step for Instagram to take. Along with users, parents feel relieved by this update, too. Danielle Leighley, a Spanish teacher and mother of four, stated, “I feel the removal of likes was definitely a very good thing. [My daughter] would come to me saying she didn’t get a lot of likes, and I would feel just terrible! Then I would find out ‘no likes’ meant 400 likes. I feel as if the new update takes away the pressure of getting a certain number of likes because now the user is the only one who can see them.” The outcome proved to Instagram officials that the update was a successful idea.

While many may feel that the removal of likes is the worst thing that could have happened for the app, others find it a huge step in the right direction. The main goal of the new update was to reduce social pressure and comparison. So far, it seems to be working. Though some may be affected financially, a majority of users believe the update is making Instagram a better place. Users are now beginning to post freely without feeling the anxiety and pressure that they felt when likes were a concern. The update is deemed to be a success, since the goal was to relieve the anxiety that can be caused by social media.