Instagram just released that they’re going to be hiding likes across US-based accounts moving forward. They claim it’s for mental health reasons, and I want to call a total B.S move on this. In this video, I’m going to show you the seven reasons why I think Instagram is hiding likes and we’re probably going to hate them for it.
As Adam Mosseri head of Instagram put it:
So right now we’re testing making like counts private, so you’ll be able to see how many people liked a given photo of yours or video of yours, but no one else will. We’re actually announcing that we’re going to start testing in the US next week.
It’s about young people. The idea is to try and depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition. Likes are great. They’re a lightweight form of feedback, but they can make the experience feel a bit tense. They can pressurize Instagram, and we want to depressurize it.
1. The Real Reason Instagram is Removing Likes…Money
Instagram wants to drive a ton of profit and traffic over to their Instagram advertising platform. Essentially, we’ve been using Instagram for years for free. We’ve developed habits and patterns to use the app. A crazy statistic is that the average Instagram user checks their phone 150 times a day. Instagram waited until it was at its peak, which has put Instagram in a fantastic position to begin changing the amount of reach they give your pages so that you can begin to transition over to using their advertising platform. Most social medias follow this particular method. They give the traffic all for free upfront and then they begin to encourage you to advertise. Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter have done similar tactics.
2. Instagram is Hiding Likes to Squeeze Influencers and Advertisers
Instagram wants a slice of the cash pie that influencers have been benefiting from for years
As Joe Rogan Said:
But if you were Instagram, right, and you had people making tons of money off of your platform just by posting things and they don’t even get a piece of that, they’ve got to be like, “Hey, what are we doing? We’re spending $1 million a month in bandwidth.”
Influencers are continually making so much money on Instagram without giving Instagram any of that, so it does make sense that one of the consequences of Instagram removing likes is that brands actually may be further incentivized to use the advertising platform rather than giving the money to influencer partnerships. Engagement on Instagram has steadily decreased as the newness of the app wears off.
3. Instagram is hiding likes to protect the premium reputation that they have as a brand
For example, do you remember that Snapchat was actually known for inflating their numbers? They used to inflate their views and the number of users that were actually present on the app, and they were able to do this because they didn’t show likes and they didn’t show followers. The views were not public information but were strictly private for the influencers and for users. They did this to appeal to more investors and make themselves look like a larger brand than they actually were. This way, the steady decline in engagement won’t be public-facing. They can just continue to hype up their app showing that their numbers and engagement are high.
4. Instagram is looking to remove competition
The number of likes that show up on photos and posts show large, overarching trends. The more likes a post, photo or style of content has, the more trendy it is. It is highly beneficial for us to be able to see those metrics. We can see the market trends to know what sort of is going to perform for us. Removing the likes, other people, other companies won’t be able to monitor these trends.
5. Instagram is hiding likes to de-incentivize any user gamification
This will create what I would call a level playing field for the Instagram algorithm to be able to monitor real engagement and real trends without the interference of bots and fake engagement. The bar for content creation is going to be so high, the algorithm or AI is going to get increasingly more accurate to know what sorts of content will perform well and what won’t. The game of building a following and audience and increasing engagement on Instagram will become increasingly more difficult.
6. Instagram is looking to retain its users in Generation Z
Recently, Gen Z has begun to express distrust towards Instagram and how the competitive nature of the app makes them feel on an internal basis in their psychology. Instagram’s CEO mentioned that the company had pulled many, many people in Gen Z in order to understand what they were looking for from the app. As TikTok escalates in popularity in the teen and young adult market, it makes sense that Instagram will be removing likes to meet the preferences for the experience that Generation Z prefers.
7. What Instagram Won’t Tell You
Lastly, I may be really controversial in saying this, but here is the truth about why Instagram is really removing likes. Contrary to popular belief, Instagram is not just a business connecting people and sharing photos. Like Facebook, Instagram is in the business of collecting and hoarding the data of its users and psychological behaviors. Do you remember when Facebook was doing psychological experiments on 700,000 users without their consent in 2014?
The media reported on this:
Facebook secretly conducted a massive psychological experiment and manipulated the incoming content for a week without telling them. It was designed to see how people’s attitudes were affected when they read either a stream of more positive posts or more negative ones in their so-called news feeds.
The algorithms these platforms depend on deliberately amplify the type of content that keeps users engaged, stories that appeal to our baser instincts and that trigger outrage and fear.
By removing and hiding likes, making them not public, but private, Instagram and its partner Facebook will be able to see all of the real true motivation behind human behavior and consumption on these apps. I truly believe that that is the information that Instagram and Facebook are seeking. What do we do behind closed doors? When no one’s looking, how do we respond to content? How do we interact with the app?
Both the Instagram and Facebook algorithms will likely be some of the best AI out there to predict human behavior on both an individual level and on a mass level. This is simultaneously amazing and scary AF. The bigger issue is we have no idea what they’re going to be doing with all of this information they’re amassing through the years to come. I’m not saying to go run and hide under a rock. I love Instagram and I’ve created a great business on it. I’m just saying it’s really important to the backing foundation of what these businesses are doing and to not be naive to think that it’s just about sharing photos and connecting with friends.
The Truth On Mental Health
My question to you is, what does Instagram stand to gain that perhaps we don’t want to lose? We should never rely on big mass corporations to take care of our mental health. Mental health is a constant process of awareness that requires us to create boundaries with how we interact with social media. It involves taking daily steps to build up our confidence and self-worth based on internal feelings of happiness, joy and purpose and less about followers, likes, and comments. I’m really curious to hear what you think of all of this, if you hate it, if you think it’s crazy and I’m a conspiracy theorist or if this has provoked you to think differently about how Instagram works and runs as a business. I think this is a really fantastic conversation that we all need to have to understand how we interact with it.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Leave a comment
I also have a video training where I will teach you how I grew my Instagram profile from 500 to the first 12,000 followers in under a year. Go to http://emelinaspinelli.com/instagram-training/