What Is the Real Reason Behind Instagram Hiding Likes?

Published December 25th, 2019 - 09:19 GMT
What Is the Real Reason Behind Instagram Hiding Likes?
Eliminating the social proof barrier could result in more revenues for the Silicon Valley-based company (Shutterstock)

Over the past few months, Facebook-owned Instagram has been testing hiding likes in the US, Japan, Canada, Australia and other regions of the world, with plans to hide it all over the world. The company announced its experiment in April 2019, citing mental health concerns and efforts to "change the way young people feel about social platforms."

This announcement comes two years after a study conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health and the Young Health Movement, that ranked Instagram as the worst social media for mental health, linking it to depression and anxiety. 

Instagram’s announcement was followed by a number of other statements stressing the importance of mental health for the third largest social media network.

Instagram's CEO, Adam Mosseri, stated that the company is prepared to "make decisions that hurt the business if they help people's wellbeing and health.”

Additionally, Mia Garlick of Facebook Australia talked about hopes of removing “pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so users can focus on sharing the things they love.”

Once this experiment is implemented globally, users would be able to see their own likes, but not that of others.

While Instagram expressed it hopes that hiding likes will help users decide for themselves if something is worth liking rather than judging content by the popularity of the post, there has been some speculations about how innocent the company’s motives are.

Some doubt has been cast on Instagram's true intentions especially because social media platforms have been quite dependent on sponsored ads from brands and social media influencers.

Due to the hidden-likes policy, people can't tell how popular a specific account or product is, which some experts say could boost sales of small, less popular businesses.

With less pressure of accumulating likes, individuals and brands could feel encouraged to post more content, and with that additional volume, people would spend more time on the platform, allowing Instagram to show a greater number of ads, according to a report from CNBC. 

This means that eliminating the social proof barrier could result in more revenues for the Silicon Valley-based company especially since people will no longer require a certain product to have lots of likes in order to buy it.

So far the tests have yielded varied results in terms of likes. A preliminary study by HypeAuditor, the influencer marketing platform, likes for influencers increased in Japan and the UK after they were hidden, but witnessed a sharp drop in Brazil and Australia.

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