Likes Disappear From Instagram


Ingrid Vanegas, Reporter

Adam Mosseri, CEO of Instagram, recently issued a temporary trial that will hide likes to create a safer and healthier environment. In May of 2019, Canada was the first country to undergo the experiment. New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Japan and Brazil followed shortly. 

Mediakix, an influencer marketing agency, reports that out of the 3.1 billion social media users, an estimated 210 million are addicted to various apps. 

Business2Community, an informational social media website, revealed common symptoms of addiction include people who rarely put their phone down every 10 minutes, use their phones late at night and become agitated when there is no service or internet. With so many people constantly on social media, an obsession with likes has fostered. 

“People are trying so hard to get others’ attention that their lives begin to revolve around it,” junior Melanie Perez said.

According to Medium, an online publishing platform, the reason behind this growing addiction is the sense of self-worth that many get from a like, which further creates a feeling of acceptance that emerges from a simple double tap. An article on SheKnows, an American digital media company, explained that upon receiving a like, a drug called Dopamine is released. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that regulates emotions and mood and essentially makes us feel good.

  “I think they just want recognition and to be looked up to, trying to fit in,” Perez said.

The fixation on likes can negatively affect users and lead to mental issues. NBC news, an American broadcast network, states that reports of major depression symptoms among adolescents have increased from 52 percent to 63 percent from 2009 to 2018. Social media platforms mainly consist of teenagers ultimately making them a primary target of negative side effects. Education Week, an online blog, claimed that 81 percent of teens use social media, whether it be Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or Facebook. Socialsprout, a social media management platform, reports that 32 percent of social media users are between 13 and 17 years old, ages where self-esteem is sporadic.

“People get so self-conscious about getting a certain amount of likes or comparing themselves to people who get more likes than them,” junior Miriam Velazquez said.

However, likes are also the source of how many small companies and business gain more attention and followers. The Guardian, a daily British newspaper, claims that likes fell 3 percent to 15 percent among influencers between 5,000 and 20,000 followers following the hidden like count test. The more amount of likes they receive, the more likely they are to get seen by more people, meaning they obtain more consumers. Thus, by hiding likes it seems like it could be harder for them to stand out.

“It can help with exposure and you can promote your business,” Velasquez said. “It’s what may have made them known because of people who share their pages or promote them through stories and tagging them.”

If Instagram were to permanently hide likes, it could hurt small businesses who use these platforms to grow. SocialMediaToday, a leading industry publication, found that in Brazil alone, influencers with 20,000 to 100,000 followers experienced a 30 percent decrease in likes. With this negative effect to this experiment, Perez believes it’s likely to result in dissatisfaction.

“People work hard to get that recognition from everyone and for them not to be able to show that will probably anger them,” Perez said.

A decline in confidence can arise from receiving a low amount of likes on a post. An opinion piece by Grazia, an online magazine, mentions that 60 percent of university age students admit that likes are the primary reason for a lack of confidence. Hiding likes could include benefits, such as an increase in self-assurance, more focus towards the photos and videos we share and the removal of pressure from many users.

“It can help users gain confidence into posting what they want without having to have ‘approval’ from others,” Velazquez said.