Social media hits back at Instagram‘s decision to get rid of ‘likes‘

‘It‘s like Chick-Fil-A not selling chicken anymore‘: Social media hits back at Instagram‘s decision to get rid of ‘likes‘ – as experts warn the overhaul may be motivated by profit not ‘mental health‘

As some Instagram users prepare to see their likes disappear from their profiles next week, reaction to the app’s upcoming overhaul in the name of ‘mental health’ prompted outrage online.

The photo-sharing app’s CEO Adam Mosseri made the announcement on Friday, during WIRED25, a two-day event focusing on the future of technology. 

According to Mosseri, the removing of likes comes as the company’s latest step towards its ambitions of becoming the ‘safest place on the Internet’, and to ‘depressurize’ the platform in the interests of its users’ mental health.

But not everyone is impressed by the changes, with some calling the move self-sabotaging and ‘stupid’, comparing Instagram abolishing likes to ‘Chick-Fil-A not selling chicken anymore’. 

Although controversial, the move has found support in celebrities like Tracee Ellis Ross and Kim Kardashian-West.

While speaking at the New York Times DealBrook Conference, Kardashian-West revealed she thinks the step will improve mental health.

‘As far as mental health…I think taking the likes away and taking that aspect away from [Instagram] would be really beneficial for people,‘ she said.

‘I know the Instagram team has been having a bunch of conversations with people to get everyone’s take on that and they’re taking it really seriously, and that makes me happy.‘

Many have agreed, praising Mosseri for the move and insisting there is ‘more to life than likes of social media‘.

Instagram has already experimented with the new feature in other parts of the world, including Canada, Australia, Japan, Ireland, Italy and Brazil, prior to the upcoming US trial.

However, ahead of the trial – which is due to commence next week – criticism has been rife online. 

‘Instagram is pointless without likes,’ blasted one critic in a tweet. ‘So we’re just gonna smile and keep scrolling,’ he asked.

Others stated there a far better ways to improve the platform’s safety – and address the implications it may have on mental health – than simply obscuring one the app’s main functions.

Goading the Instagram board in a satirical post on Twitter, Terry Matz suggested that rather removing likes to become the ‘safest place on the internet’, the social media site could instead ‘Stop invading our privacy and collecting data without our permission.’

Skaai Jackson believes Instagram should offer users a choice to hide their likes or not, rather than ‘forcing‘ them to do it. 

Additional users voiced beliefs that Instagram’s planned overhaul is attempting a marred attempt to stifle entrepreneurship and stop users from making money on their platform – without Instagram at least receiving a larger slice of the profits.

‘Instagram is starting to hide likes because they’re trying to slow down [people] creating businesses from their platform,’ a woman tweeted Saturday morning. ‘That’s why the algorithm is the way it is also. They want the control. Not us.’

Another thundered, ‘Instagram doesn’t care about your mental health. They’re taking likes away to control what trends and to make money controlling what pops off and what doesn’t.

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‘Lol, you think IG gives a f**k about your mental health? Every move they make is calculated for their own benefit.’

For the average user, the potentially new norm may be inconsequential but some social media influencers are worried what this might do branding.

‘If Instagram gets rid of likes, half of Los Angeles will be out of business,’ joked one user.

But according to a study in Social Media Today, the perils facing influencers could indeed be serious, as almost all unanimously experienced a drop in their like counts in countries where the feature change was previously trialed.

Mosseri has recognized how important influencers are for the platform since it attracts followings and fan bases.

As a way to combat any obstacles that could hurt influencers‘ approach to the app, Mosseri is pointing to the platform‘s gradual shift to online shopping.

He said: ‘Given that we need to create meaningful tools for creators to make a living on Instagram, commerce and shopping provide a bunch of interesting opportunities.

‘We actually think the future of shopping is going to have to include influencers, as well. ‘

He pointed out that users may look up to influencers for style, makeup or fashion tips.

Mosseri continued: ‘If we can thoughtfully connect the dots between those who make…products and sell them, those creators or influencers who are sometimes one in the same, and people who are actually interested in these products, we can unlock a lot of value for everyone involved.‘

But marketing experts say the new model will allow the social media giant to take a firmer hold of trending content and make more money from such manufactured trends than ever before.

While indeed a more ‘healthy environment’ could result from the changes, it‘s too early to determine whether removing likes will directly improve health.

In the meantime, analysts say the changes could also further incentivize brands to put paid media support behind their influencer posts.

Instagram said in June it was rolling out a different change, allowing advertisers promote posts from influencers. Before that, brands could also post influencer content by just posting content from influencer on their own page, or by posting them on other third-party accounts.

Bob Gilbreath, general manager of influencer and social media marketing firm Ahalogy, told that more brands and agencies tapping into the paid model will allow Instagram to more deeply penetrate the big money being spent on the platform on influencer marketing.

‘If people go more to this paid model, that’s making it so Instagram gets a bigger [portion] of the money,‘ he said.

Moressi has repeatedly stressed that none of these changes are permanent and that there is a ‘long road‘ ahead.

It is unclear which or how US Instagram accounts will be selected for the test.

Mosseri said: ‘It‘s about young people. The idea is to depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, give people more space to focus on connecting with people they love and things that inspire them.‘

‘We have to see how it affects how people feel about the platform, how it affects how people use the platform, how it affects the creator ecosystem.‘

Ideally, Mosseri hopes it will ‘reduce anxiety‘ and ‘reduce social comparison.‘


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