By Shey Li Liew
There has been a mixed response by social media giant Instagram to trial hiding “likes” that appear alongside posts in a bid to improve the mental health of its users.
A “like” can be added to a post by other users if they support the post – over time this has become an indicator of a user’s popularity.
Instagram head Adam Mosseri has reportedly confirmed the trial of hiding “likes” will be first run in Canada.
Under the trial the number of ‘likes’ will be not be displayed for other people looking at the post, but the user who originally posts the photos or videos can still see them.
A report by Britain’s Royal Society for Public Health’s says Instagram is ranked the most detrimental to young people’s wellbeing and mental health.
Instagram says it’s testing the change to make its platform less harmful to users’ mental health and eliminate what it calls a false sense of engagement created from the number of ‘likes’ a post or user receives.
Murdoch University social media researcher Dr Catherine Archer thinks it’s interesting for Instagram to use this approach to counter the issues that have to do with mental health.
“Facebook and Instagram have a lot of negative publicity recently, so they’re trialing something that might get them some positive publicity,” said Dr Archer.
She said from the influencers’ responses to the trial, many of them aren’t unhappy with the idea of hiding the ‘like’ count from other people as the platform has become so competitive now.
“It may help improve the level of feeling of anxiety and competitiveness amongst people,” she said.
A Malaysian social media influencer Kher Ying Lai who has 14,000 followers on Instagram doesn’t like the idea of hiding ‘likes’ from other users.
She said her fame helps her to earn an income while studying full-time.
“Companies give me their products, ask me to promote them on Instagram and this is where I get my earnings from,” said Lai.
“Without the likes, there’s no proof that I am influential and companies wouldn’t want me to promote their products anymore.”