On April 29th Instagram rocked the social world when the third most popular social networking site announced a test-run feature where the number of likes photos receive are no longer publicly displayed. Usually Instagram’s updates consist of bug fixes and performance improvements that rarely affect the use or navigation of the app. At any rate, the disappearance of likes is one change users definitely can’t ignore. Following the launch, Instagram issued a statement explaining that their product developers are merely experimenting with the idea. So far, only about a third of Canadian users are being used as sample subjects, which leaves account holders in the dark when it comes to whether or not the hidden like-count will become a permanent feature on the app.
With an adjustment this dramatic to a software used so regularly and religiously, it is no surprise that society’s reaction is divided. While some see Instagram’s test-run as a way to promote a more positive, inclusive, and accepting user experience, others consider it a complete transformation of the app. Being a regular Instagrammer myself, I’ve become very interested in these mixed opinions, leading me to explore the question: what do Queen’s students think? After some casual conversation, I collected responses to the following three questions:
- Why do you think Instagram made this drastic change?
- Do you support it? Why or why not?
- Will this affect how much you post or use the app?
Check it out below!
“I like it. Now people won’t care what others think and you can kind of post whatever because there’s no liking and it’s not a competition.
– ArtSci student, 22’
“I still get to see my own likes, which is fine, but we live in a society where that doesn’t really matter. What matters is when other people see your likes. We only feel validated then, and not when it’s just us. I respect the company for trying to change that kind of social corruption.”
– ArtsSci student, 21’
“I wish I agreed with it and could say I’m happy it was implemented, but I honestly don’t like the change. I think likes can be toxic, but they’re also a representation of the real world and the reality that people are compared to one another. We rank everything in life, and hiding the likes is just a way to try and protect people from something that’s still happening anyways.”
– Commerce student, 22’
“It kind of feels like Instagram and VSCO are the same now. I don’t know – I can’t really decide how I feel about it.”
– ArtsSci student, 19’
“It won’t affect how much I use the app; my obsession is way too far gone. That being said though, I do miss the old Insta.”
– Commerce student, 22’
“It reduces anxieties and pressure for sure when it comes to having a media presence. I find it a beneficial change for the average Instagram user, but if I was an influencer or a business, I’d be pretty pissed about it.”
– Commerce student 20’
“Does this mean everyone is going to start treating their Insta like a Finsta? Because if yes, then I might as well disconnect my account right now.”
– ArtSci student, 22’
“One of the key components of Instagram (for most) is to receive validation on your post, and that comes in the form of likes. Many young Instagram users love to compare likes, or validation, of themselves to others, and the hidden likes obviously make that much harder to do. But it may prove to be a beneficial update as this social comparison can be very harmful in terms of one’s self-esteem and self-pride.”
– Engineering Student, 22’
As always, Queen’s students had a lot to say. While the privatization of likes can reduce competition and superficial activity on the app, it can also be detrimental to influencers and businesses who rely on social media for promotion or advertisement. Samantha Cutler, a Montreal based influencer who can be found on Instagram @thefitfatale, recently shared a post on the topic. The Instagrammer believed that not having likes was “designed to alleviate the whole anxiety of “not being good enough””, an aspect that was affecting those around her in personal and professional ways. She continued by stating that mental health can be affected when we use likes to “[measure] worth off of Instagram statuses”. Cutler also provided a business-focused perspective: “For people like [me] who make their living off of this platform, this could hurt our business because brands still want to see likes and engagement. After all, it’s Instagram that made us these like hungry creatures to begin with”.
Overall, Instagram is getting support and backlash on their test-run. Insta fans may continue to debate pros and cons, but the question still remains: will this new feature stick?