Instagram “like” policy excites WCHS students

The thumbs up icon represents a like.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

The thumbs up icon represents a “like”.

By Ava Freeman, Features Editor

The “like” button has been a staple for Instagram ever since it was launched in 2010. The feature was created to give users a way to compliment their friend’s posts with a click of a button. However, what was originally intended to be a self confidence booster has been shown to do the exact opposite. 

With its success in Canada, Instagram has been experimenting with a new feature that will hide the number of “likes” one receives from their followers. This Nov., Instagram has begun to bring this feature to the U.S. by gradually updating different user’s accounts with the goal of taking the focus off the number of “likes” and onto the actual content of the post. 

At the Wired tech 25 conference (a two day event where technology industry leaders explore the future of technology through various talks and workshops), Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri discussed his reasonings for the platform tweak, which was stated on Business Insider.

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

Mosseri is referring to what used to be a carefree app that gave people the opportunity to connect with friends and share their experiences with others, is now giving teens social pressure to get as many “likes” as possible. It can even lower users, especially teenagers, self esteem if their post does not get as much “likes” and attention as they were hoping. 

“I think that many teenagers are self conscious and care about their image online,” junior Annika Hando said. “Taking away the number of ‘likes’ will make Instagram a more positive site, instead of one that is fixed on judging people by how popular a post is.” 

Many can agree that the obsession over “likes” has gone too far. Some Instagram users even delete posts that do not get “enough likes” or will even go as far to purchase “likes” so that their posts appear to be more popular. Honors World History teacher, John Freundel, has even noticed some of these effects on other social media platforms, like Facebook, where the number of “likes” is also prevalent. 

“I imagine if you live on Instagram or social media networks and you are not getting that immediate gratification that could be pretty devastating to one’s self esteem,” Freundel said.

In today’s age, teenagers experience a new type of pressure online that was not present during previous generations. On different social media apps, especially Instagram, many photos are edited and photoshopped, which can give teenagers an unrealistic expectations of what they should look like.

 Also, when a user’s post does not get many “likes”, some people will rethink their post or wonder why it did not get as many “likes” as their peers. While hiding the number of “likes” will not completely eliminate this problem, hopefully it will eliminate some of the urge for teens to compare their posts to other’s posts. 

“I think [the update] is a really good idea because followers can focus on the content of the picture or video posted instead of its popularity,” Hando said.

While the new Instagram update seems to have many positive effects, some are concerned about how it will affect social media influences who heavily rely on “likes” for brand deals. This is because oftentimes companies will reach out to popular influencers, who receive a high number of “likes,” to promote their brand through Instagram posts and stories. By hiding their “like” count, it may be more difficult for these influencers to receive brand deals as companies will not know how much attention that account is getting from followers. 

“Social media influencers will probably become more dependent on followers or comments than their ‘likes’,” junior Charlotte Cooper said.

Although Instagram has been making changes in order to take some of the pressure off of those who stress over “likes,” they do not have any intention to eliminate “likes” all together. This is because “likes” can be used as a way to bring people together, especially for users who have lost contact with old friends.

“It’s nice to know that a person you have not talked to in a while is still looking at your posts, which keeps you touch from time to time,” Freundel said. 

Although this feature is still in the experimental stages, hopefully it accomplishes the goal of keeping the focus off of a post’s popularity and onto what the app was intended for, a way for people to express themselves and to stay connected with friends and family. 

“Overall, I look forward to see what happens with the update and how it will affect the way users use Instagram,” Cooper said. “I hope that it improves teens self esteem and makes Instagram a more positive site.”