Instagram has recently announced the removal of “Likes” from the platform which has stirred serious debate. To be more specific, according to Business Insider, “Likes aren’t completely gone. You can still view the like count on your own photos and videos — just not posts from others. In April, Adam Mosseri told BuzzFeed News that removing likes was ‘about creating a less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.’”
That being said, Instagram has gained a significant user base in its inauthenticity, as a user’s profile is a highlight of their best moments as opposed to their daily activities. Instagram’s original attempt to curb this trend was with the introduction of “Stories”, allowing quick posts that expire within a given time-frame as many do not want to disrupt the theme of their primary page. That being said, according to Vox, “People had already built workarounds — ‘finstas,’ private secondary accounts that only a person’s closest friends had access to, were for content that didn’t have to be so serious — but Stories invited everyone on the platform to craft an additional alternate version of themselves, one that wasn’t quite as polished as they were used to being on Instagram, but still curated enough to be shown to everyone they knew. If anything, Stories only increased the barrier for how “like”-able a photo had to be to end up on a user’s grid.”
Whether good or bad, the reality is, “likes” evolved into a valued public metric, whether a celebrity, influencer, or everyday user. Generally, metrics enable confidence and inspire future engagement, and with the removal of this, there are potential negative implications, especially for those who utilize Instagram as their primary platform, whether for communication with fans, potential sales, or even social validation. Additionally, spaces such as Snapchat and VSCO already exist to satisfy the niches that Instagram is transitioning towards: brief, informal posts and formal posts without a high level of concern for likes.
This decision impacts multiple audiences and poses serious risks, from Instagram users and their mental health, to the potential lifespan of Instagram in the long-term. Though Instagram has been successful with such twists before, it will be interesting to see if this move will be the Achilles heel creating a MySpace effect, or if this will position Instagram for enduring success.
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