Instagram tests ‘no likes’, sends users into panic.

Have you noticed that likes are missing from your photos recently? Here’s why!

iphone with instagram log in page on screen

Sunday, 17 November, 2019

Negative effects.

Love it or loathe it, Instagram has become part of the fabric of modern existence for many. Now, after nearly a decade of being in our lives, Instagram are evaluating the effect of the ‘addictive’ app has on us.

Many experts have said that the impact of ‘likes’ across all social media platforms is detrimental to our mental health. The idea being that constant need for validation makes us all have lower self esteem and anxiety! For younger users especially this can be incredibly damaging, as their developing self esteem is at its most vulnerable.

Time to act.

In an effort to address this Instagram have offered solutions like alerts telling you how long you spend on there. This month they’ve taken it one step further and removed the ‘like count’ on some user’s photos. The theory behind this being that without the incentive of likes, app use will be less damaging.

However, after nearly a decade of existence, Instagram has naturally become host to whole industries. From influencers to online shops and even musical artists, anyone could be affected by this move.

Instagram based artist Peter DeLuce said:

Instagram removing likes may be terrible for emerging artists online….Instagram allowed me to reach a whole new section of people who don’t normally get to see art….Likes are a good metric to prove your art is high quality – that there is a validation of your ideas and content.

- Peter DeLuce

Business backlash.

With local high streets dying, many have hailed social media as the saviour for small businesses. With that in mind it’s easy to see how this might negatively affect small businesses dependent on Instagram for marketing. Instagram’s sorting algorithm places content with more engagement higher in your feed. But if we can’t see the popularity of a product or content, will this affect our judgement?

DeLuce also made the point about Instagram breaking down traditional barriers artists used to face. “Without likes, recognition in the art world returns to who you know or subjective elitist tastes…”.

The change means you will still be able to see your own likes. It’s only your followers who won’t be able to see how many likes your photo got.

These tests have been going on since last year, mainly in Asia. In early tests influencers said they saw like counts fall in countries where it was hidden. Likes were said to fall from 3% to 15% in all the countries for influencers with 5,000 to 20,000 followers. So it’s obvious to see why many businesses and influencers would be unhappy by the move.

Positive outlook.

Despite the backlash and concern, Instagram remain optimistic. Instagram boss Adam Mosseri said: “The idea is to try to depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, and give people more space to focus on connecting with the people they love and things that inspire them…”

Natalie Dunning author picture


Natalie Dunning is a freelance writer and Media Psychology researcher based in Manchester.