Australian Instagram users will no longer see how many ‘likes’ an Instagram post receives. The platform says the latest update is about easing competitiveness and improving the wellbeing of users. Will it work? We asked and over 250 young people responded. Turns out, the answer isn’t clear cut.
You may have noticed your Instagram posts now show a username with ‘and others like this’ where the total number of ‘likes’ used to be. You can click through to see a list of all the users who liked the post, it just doesn’t publicly display the total number any more.
So why the change? Instagram announced (on Twitter…) it’s running a test in Australia and five other countries because “We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.” The announcement also said, “We’re looking forward to learning more about how this change might benefit everyone’s experience on Instagram.”
Considering young people make up over 70% of Instagram’s total users in Australia, and many studies name social media as having negative effects on young people’s mental health and wellbeing, we wanted to know if young people think removing ‘likes’ will actually change anything.
Over 250 responses to our online polls revealed that most of these young Australians see the change as a positive thing. Although, it was a close call.
Jane from Melbourne says she welcomes the change.
Sometimes when I mindlessly scroll through Instagram I’ll double-tap posts with more likes and ignore posts that don’t have many. It’s so weird! It’s probably not healthy behaviour so I’m really glad the likes are gone.
Asanga from Melbourne agrees:
I think it’s really positive for mental health, especially in a super self-conscious environment like high school…at least that’s how it was for me.
It’s unclear whether the change will be permanent, but Alicia from Melbourne thinks it’s a good start.
I know people who delete posts because they didn’t get the number of likes they expected. It’s unhealthy and can trample on people’s self-esteem.
But does Instagram really care about our wellbeing? Micky from Melbourne is skeptical.
Part of me thinks that it’s just Instagram taking away the ability for businesses to use influencers for advertising, and instead businesses will have to go through Instagram with sponsored posts so Instagram will make more money.”
And Daniel from New South Wales says he isn’t phased at all:
If they took away follower counts I think it’d have a much greater influence on people’s mental health.
All responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.