Social Media Deception? Instagram Tests Feature that Hides Likes and Follower Counts
Out of all Internet users between the ages 18 and 29, 59% of them use Instagram, according to Omnico’s 2019 Instagram statistics. The statistic is even higher for younger users. According to a survey by Pew Research Center, 72% of teens 13 to 17 say they used Instagram in 2018. And if these findings don’t surprise or shock you, this next one just might. Instagram was found to be the most detrimental platform to young people’s mental health and well-being, according to a report published by RSPH and Young Mental Health Movement.
Instagram makes it easy for people to compare themselves to one another, mostly focusing on things like physical appearance and wealth. This can take a toll on a young person’s self-esteem and mental health, especially when it is so easy to manipulate your appearance or location with technology. This also makes it difficult to determine what is real and what isn’t.
The amount of likes a photo receives has turned from a compliment into a form of social validation. How many followers you have determines how popular you are and the places you post determine how cool you are. Now, it’s not even worth it to pay for a nice meal without snapping a photo for your story. In the world of Instagram, if you didn’t post it, it didn’t happen. And at the same time, users can edit their photos with apps that can make them appear two sizes smaller in their bikini photos or remove all the blemishes from their selfies.
Taking this harsh reality into account, Instagram decided to test out a new feature: hidden like and follower counts.
“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets,” says Instagram in a pop-up message about the feature test, according to an article by Forbes.
It’s too soon to tell whether or not this feature will be implemented to all users of the platform. However, this feature does have the potential to promote more positivity and reduce judgement, especially for younger users.
I grew up with Instagram myself and especially in high school, I was obsessed with the amount of likes I received. Overjoyed if I got a 100 likes on a photo and disappointed if I got less, even going so far as to delete photos, photos that I actually liked, just because they didn’t receive as many likes as the next girl in my class. I wish that I wouldn’t have been so concerned about shallow things like my appearance on Instagram, especially at a time when most struggle with their self-worth, but I wasn’t the only one who over analyzed their social media persona. In fact, my situation wasn’t even that serious. Others around me were cyberbullied or depressed from the pressure social media placed on our shoulders. “Do it for the gram” was a saying most people used to justify things they were never even think to do without the possibility of sharing it on Instagram.
If this “hidden” feature were to be released, will it apply to every user or will it just be an option available for those who wish to hide their like and follower counts. If it is the latter, there still poses an issue with self-esteem. If certain people have their follower counts hidden while others don’t, will it just be assumed that the people that hide their counts don’t have a lot of followers or likes to begin with?
Furthermore, how will Instagram influencers make a living if their followers and likes are hidden? Will comments become the new like? Will people stop caring about Instagram without this feature? Will suicide and cyberbullying rates decline? Will the world become a better place?
Currently, Instagram is just testing this feature so only time will tell what their results will be.
For now, if you need guidance on Instagram influencer or Instagram e-commerce, Internet defamation, cyberbullying, or free speech issues on social media, contact the attorneys at RM Warner Law or visit RMWarnerLaw.com to learn more.