By now, you’ve probably heard the news that Instagram is removing the like button from the platform. This move is an attempt to bring further authenticity to the platform by removing the desire to post content solely for the “likes”. Instagram hopes that by removing the like button, its users won’t feel inadequate next to the giants on the platform who gain thousands of likes per post. According to Time Magazine, Instagram is actually the worst social media platform for mental health because of vanity and constant comparisons. The response to this decision has been mixed, with some users embracing the change as a permanent improvement and others condemning it as pandering to users with fewer likes on their content.
The Why Behind the Change
This bold move was announced by Instagram last year around November, with many users taking part in the test where likes were hidden. If you didn’t participate in the test, there wasn’t any change to your feed, but users generally reported positive feedback to the change. Critics have bashed Instagram for its supposed negative effects on users’ mental health; creating nearly impossible expectations and standards when it comes to things like body shape, size, beauty, and popularity of posts.
Social media use (in great quantities) has been tied to sleep deprivation, productivity loss, and even depression in some cases. The artificial world that social media often portrays can make teens and even adults feel like they’re not good enough, pretty enough, or worthy of as much attention as their favorite influencers. Social media is addicting, especially when everything you’re posting is getting liked by thousands of people, but some think the negative effects outweigh the positive ones.
Instagram has millions of users on a daily basis, and this causes some to feel inadequate when they see other people’s lives that seem better than their own. The constant comparisons and wishing for a more Instagram-worthy life has created feelings of isolation, and even lead to some pretty nasty practices like cyber-bullying.
Instagram hopes the shift will create an entirely new atmosphere and help foster the idea that everyone is beautiful in a unique way. Boosting authenticity is the name of the game in 2020, and Instagram is taking steps to achieve this goal.
What it Means for Businesses
Millions of businesses use Instagram for advertising in one way or another. Whether it’s paying an influencer to review a product, creating their own business account, or using Instagram ads, businesses have been benefiting from Instagram’s diverse and widespread platform for many years.
The “like” button has served as a helpful metric for businesses to see how their posts, and therefore, their products, are received among customers. Without the like button, how will they know if customers like what they’re posting?
This question raises many concerns for businesses, but in truth, it shouldn’t have too much of an effect on how businesses perform. The like button is a great metric for measuring the success of a post, yes; but there are not only other platforms like Facebook that still use the like button but also other ways to use Instagram to reach customers (like IGTV).
In a world where you can buy 1,000 Instagram followers at the click of a button, it’s a bit difficult to imagine that removing the like button will cause a huge issue for the platform’s users. You’ll still see popular posts and will know how many followers each page has. This metric speaks for itself, as followers are just as important as likes.
Will it Really Improve Authenticity?
There’s some debate about whether or not removing the like button will actually improve the platform’s authenticity. To begin with, filters, edits, and doctored-up photos don’t create much of a sense of authenticity and can help to perpetuate the idea that other people’s lives are somehow perfect. Even without the likes, we’ll still see photos of flawless bodies, bikini pictures just for the sake of attention, and high-resolution images of people living seemingly better lives than everyone else.
Authenticity comes from a place of raw emotion and unedited pieces of life. The minute we put a filter on, crop an image, or otherwise change that image to meet a predetermined set of rules or expectations, that image loses its authenticity. Will removing the like button truly help improve the authenticity problem, or does that problem come directly from us?
Are we responsible for the rise in such content? After all, we are the ones that absorb it like sponges and spend hours scrolling, liking, and sharing the very images that make us feel so envious and inadequate. It’s easy to see where the platform is coming from with the decision to remove likes, but it feels like there’s a bit more to the problem than just the like button.
Authenticity isn’t hard to come by, you just have to be yourself. The old cliche rings truer than ever now that social media is the king of social interaction. The harder you try to be like someone else, or change yourself for your audience, the less happy you’ll be overall.
Try to keep your content as authentic as possible, with as much of you in it as possible. You don’t have to look like a flawless magazine model to be beautiful (those images are altered, too), and you don’t have to have ten million followers and five thousand likes on every post to be valuable.
The Future of Instagram
The future of Instagram seems stable enough, but if Instagram wants to fix the authenticity problem, it’s going to have to start with us; the users. Removing the like button may or may not be a step in the right direction for the social media giant, but ultimately, Instagram isn’t likely to go anywhere anytime soon.
With one billion users, millions of active monthly visitors, millions of businesses advertising on the platform, and global influence, Instagram is one of the most powerful platforms on the web today.