Instagram announced back in May that they were looking to start hiding likes on their platform and they began testing this on a randomly selected test group in Canada. In July they expanded their test group to other countries, this included Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand.
The company began testing this in the hope to “reduce the pressure to rack up likes”. Likes are often used as a measure of popularity and Instagram are looking to move away from this as it is having a negative impact on many of its users.
The test removes the total number of likes on photos and videos, but the owner of the account will still be able to see them. Likes will not appear on the main newsfeed or on profiles with the aim to make Instagram about the content that is being uploaded and not about how many likes it is receiving. For many users, not getting enough likes can impact their self-esteem and is damaging to their mental health.
Instagram has also made recent moves to address bullying and the trolls who use the app. They have announced a new tool that uses artificial intelligence to tell users when a comment could be considered offensive before it is posted. In addition to this Instagram will be adding a “Restrict” mode aimed at combating the trolls. When you restrict another user, comments on your posts from that person are only visible to them, and not other people. Restricted users also won’t be able to see if that person is active on Instagram or if they’ve read their direct messages.
Facebook have also just announced that they will also start hiding likes, this means that the number of views, reactions and likes will only be visible to the author of the post. Facebook are starting this with a randomly selected test group in Australia. This will also include ad comments and likes.
Facebook have said that they will be gathering the feedback so they can better understand whether this change will improve the general user experience, or not. Facebook has also revealed they were inspired to test this as they were “excited by the test results” that have come from the Instagram trial.
Many members of the public from around the world are coming forward and suggesting that Instagram and Facebook should expand the test group to all of those who actually want to take part. The platforms are learning that there are many members of the public are willing to give up their likes voluntarily to encourage this positive movement.
So what does this mean for influencers?
Well, it is safe to say that everybody is going to have to work a lot harder to make an impact, however this means that influencers should begin to work with brands who they truly believe in, in order to build genuine relationships with companies they work with and their followers. By removing likes users won’t feel so pressured by some of the influencers posts as they will not be able to view how many other users have interacted with them.
In general ‘becoming an influencer’ is becoming harder and harder, this is because the instagram algorithms seem to be extremely difficult to beat. On the whole, all engagement on Instagram seems to be down, so, if and when this movement goes global, we believe this will be the end of the road for many influencers, especially for those who are up and coming.