Instagram has made billions of dollars because of billions of likes, and of course, having a great digital platform. What if Instagram decided to remove likes? How would influencers make their money? How would advertisers know they were legit? How would my 17 year-old cousin know that she received more likes by posting at 4pm on Sunday, instead of 9am on Tuesday? There are a lot of questions to be answered, but Instagram doesn’t seem to care.
Last year the digital world was shook when Instagram announced they would test hiding the like feature in certain countries. This is due to the social anxiety and depression that many people were facing when they didn’t receive enough likes on their posts. They even went to the extent of taking pictures down if they didn’t have enough likes.
Instagram head Adam Mosseri explained, “The big idea is to try and make Instagram feel less pressurized, to make it less of a competition. So, you can spend a little bit less time worrying about how many likes you have and a little bit more time connecting with people or things that inspire you.” Users would still be able to “like” a post, and account owners would still be able to see how many interactions a post received. However, the change would remove the public-facing number, leaving users without the context of whether a post has been particularly popular.
While many people around the world think that this is a good idea because of the increase of depression and anxiety, it has many influencers upset and angry over the change. According to CNN Business, at the heart of this industry is a simple premise: people can turn their popularity into profit. Sometimes, a lot of profit. The most highly-paid influencers such as Kylie Jenner can make more than $1 million per Instagram post.
While I personally think hiding likes on Instagram would be extremely positive, I don’t think it would solve the problem of anxiety and depression as it relates to social media and the damage it can cause. Because of that, I think influencers will lose a lot of money. In my opinion, I think it would be smart for Instagram to hide accounts that have under 50k followers. Doing some research, it seems that influencers start to make real money when they have over 100k followers and sure, that may take even longer to build up if people can’t see your likes, but it also allows influencers with a big enough following to still make money, while it can elevate the stress and anxiety of teenagers.