Instagram is making a radical change to its platform in an effort to force advertisers to buy advertising and stop using influencers instead. Kylie Jenner for example reportedly makes $1 million per Instagram post, and 0% of that goes back to the platform. Meanwhile, Instagram’s own ads don’t receive nearly the engagement that you’ll see on posts by influential users.
The social photo-sharing app announced on Thursday it would no longer display likes on posts in Australia and several other countries. This test, Instagram noted, is to offset the social pressure people now feel about gaining “likes” online.
“We want Instagram to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves. We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love,” Facebook Australia and New Zealand director of policy Mia Garlick said in a statement. “We are now rolling the test out to Australia so we can learn more about how this can benefit people’s experiences on Instagram, and whether this change can help people focus less on likes and more on telling their story.”
The test first took place in Canada, however, likes reappeared on Canadian accounts two days ago, Business Insider reported.
Though the likes will not be visible to others, they will still be visible to the user who posted the image. So, you can see your likes, but nobody else can.
Instagram is also testing this no-likes approach in Ireland, New Zealand, Japan, Brazil, and Italy. Users in those countries will see the following message when they log on:
“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test only you will be able to see the total number of likes on your posts.”
In 2017, the Royal Society for Public Health released a study showing “social media may be fueling a mental health crisis,” especially with young people. For the study, researchers polled nearly 1,500 young people about their thoughts on social media. It found that of all the social media outlets Instagram scored the lowest for health and wellbeing.
In a video posted to her Instagram account, Australian Instagram model Mikaela Testahad a tearful “meltdown” about the response she received for criticizing the change on Facebook. The post, which has since been removed, claimed that Instagram was doing “real damage” with this change.
Some Instagram users on Twitter were saying they would like it if the likes were gone from the app, and that it could result in better or more genuine posts overall. They also thought it would be an opportunity to take some of the pressure off of posting and lessen the anxiety around the app. Other people said it would probably impact the self-esteem of those who use their Instagram likes as a booster for their confidence. Most of the people tweeting about the changed seemed to think it was a positive one but people were noting that it would make things more difficult for businesses and influencers on the app.
Removing likes is an easy way to kill two birds with one stone. Not only does it look like the platform is making a change that would be better for its users’ mental health, they’re also leveling the playing field with Influencers and encouraging brands to work through Instagram if they want to advertise their goods on the platform.