Why are Instagram and Facebook Hiding the Like Count?

11/11/2019     Author: Billy Gray

Social media platforms are increasingly jumping onto the new bandwagon of hiding the like count of posts from the public. This is to stop bullying for young users.

 

Instagram has been gradually rolling out an experiment to hide the ‘like count’ of posts from the public. This has been gradually implemented around the world, and is now hitting the US as well. The point of the experiment was to see if people were more likely to post content that they actually liked, rather than simply trying to amass likes in a popularity contest online.

It seems that this has paid off and people are engaging with the platform in a more genuine way. This, in turn, improves the mental wellbeing of the people who are using the platforms. It’s a win-win, because it means that people will enjoy using them more, and queries on Google like ‘how to delete Instagram’ will become less common…

In this post, we’ll have a look at why Instagram and Facebook are hiding the like count, what effect this is happening, and what else these platforms are doing to improve the mental health of users.

Why is Instagram hiding the like count?

Instagram is often considered to be one of the more toxic social media platforms, because people generally only post the best times they have on the site, which makes the lives of others look more happy and fun than their lives really are. This is something that is logical to expect, right? After all, why would you post a picture of yourself depressed and in tears on social media? People would probably just assume that you were looking for attention by doing so.

For some people, however, social media can make their own lives look grim and lifeless. Seeing pictures of happy, beautiful people on the beach all the time can make it seem as though everyone else has some secret to success and happiness that you were never told.

This is especially true among young people, although it does extend to people of all age groups and backgrounds. Twitter is often considered toxic as well, because of all the negativity that is splurged out on the platform, but it seems that Instagram is unique in having such a visual effect on people.

There are lots of ‘influencers’ on the platform as well, who don the latest fashion trends, six-pack abs, and just generally make normal people look pale in comparison. This is another thing that young people are especially prone to being fooled by – they often don’t seem to consider how much work, makeup, and posing goes into someone looking good in a photo. They don’t seem to understand that it isn’t normal, and they feel inadequate when really they shouldn’t.

Instagram is well aware that this is how people perceive their platform, and as a result, the company is trying to introduce new measures that will improve the mental health of users by getting rid of the popularity aspect and trying to make people more comfortable just being themselves. Of course, they also want to continue to drive up engagement with the platform, so they don’t want to alienate people using it.

Hiding the ‘like count’ is a good way to go about this, because it stops people from obsessing over how many people have liked their content. The user can see the information if they press ‘others’ under their photo – but the public cannot see a total number.

You could simply count all the people who have liked the post, but this would take some time and realistically no one is going to bother doing that. This takes some of the pressure off of people to post things that others will like. Now, you can try more to just post what you like, without the like count being front and centre.

Facebook follows suit

Instagram isn’t the only platform to introduce this change. Facebook are also hiding the like count on this that people post in an effort to emulate the success that Instagram has been having. Seeing as Facebook owns Instagram, this comes as no surprise.

Facebook has been under a lot of public scrutiny recently, especially following the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other privacy breaches. The company is also under fire for their proposed Libra cryptocurrency, which could become one of the world’s most used currencies if launched and would render transaction fees a thing of the past.

The company is therefore trying its best to give off a good image to the public. One way that they’re doing this is by surveying their users about how much they think Facebook cares about them and then trying to implement changes that will benefit users.

Facebook has suffered from a similar reputation problem as Instagram, with many people seeing the platform as damaging to mental health as young people get addicted to using it. It’s no secret that the company has used addictive measures to drive up user engagement, and the seemingly endless flow of notifications that the app gives you are obviously aimed at keeping you looking at the app for as long as possible.

What effect is this having?

It appears that hiding the like count is having some positive affect. People are probably more likely to post things without considering how many people will like it, and if no one does like it, then people won’t be as concerned. We know that we have personally stopped caring so much about how many likes our pictures get on Instagram since the changes came in.

It’s sad to admit it, but everyone gets a buzz when they see that loads of people have liked their post. It’s just natural. Seeing those likes can actually release the same hormone in the brain that cocaine releases, which would explain why social media can be so addictive and why people love to post stuff for the sake of others. Be careful not to get too wrapped up in the contest and just post what you like. Enjoy.

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