Nine years after its release and seven months since the founders left, Instagram is now testing what arguably is the biggest change in the social media app's interface ever: hiding the like count. It may seem like a minuscule alteration at first, but give it some thought, and you would realise how much of an impact this will have. Once implemented, a shift in content and dynamic will be instantly felt. Spotted by Hong Kong-based reverse-engineering specialist Jane Manchun Wong, the internal prototype is yet to be released to the public. But what happens once it's implemented? Ahead, we discuss the pros and cons of Instagram hiding the like count.
No more popularity contest
Whether we want to admit it or not, the fact still remains that posts with more likes are likely to be given more value than others. Consequently, this puts pressure to produce like-worthy or sensational posts that people will eat up. More often than not, this kind of content is not the same as what we truly want to share with our followers. And by hiding the like count, users will be less conscious in what they post and focus more on expressing themselves. Consider this a pro.
Developing a close-knit community
In the absence of a like count, people will flock to the comments section to express an interest in your content. The good thing about this is that it will foster a next-level type of interaction that goes beyond just acknowledgement. There will be a deeper discussion with the people who are interested in what you do. Meaningful exchange is highlighted in place of a run-off-the-mill 'like'.
Better for overall well-being
Since you're the only person who will know the number of likes you get, it will be harder to compare your social media standing to other people. Think about Instagram Stories and how we're more uninhibited and carefree in sharing content because we're the only people who will know how many views it got. The dopamine stream will still be there but the pressure to churn out people-pleasing content will be lessened.
Saturation of posts is likely
On the flip side, because people are more likely to post mindlessly, our feed may become saturated with mediocre content that will bore us in the long run. Along with the decrease in pressure to be sensational, originality may also suffer. It's an obvious con.
Follower count will be highlighted more than ever
When there's no more like counter, marketers will need to base on other visible numbers to determine if a collaboration with a certain influencer is worth it. In this case, the buying of followers may once again be a big problem. And since there's no more like count to countercheck if the engagement and clout of influencers are true, deception will be easier than ever.
You still need to beat the algorithm
For brands and influencers, beating the algorithm is still a big challenge. Without the like count, it's gonna be difficult to gain insights on what the overall environment is. For example, you wouldn't know if you are doing good in comparison to a similar or competitor brand. Overall, this change will affect marketers more than individuals. Both are of importance to the app, so we'll just see if this will push through and what compromises can be done to satisfy every party.