VanArts Radio

Private Instagram “Likes” Change The Game

May 03 by Adam Thorp

I’m not much of a social media guru. I use Facebook and Instagram and that’s about it. I post things that make me happy and share constructive messages I want to put out into the world. I try not to get caught up in the modern world of social media because I know it’s all just a performance. A lot of the time smiles are forced, sunsets are enhanced, and bodies are edited to unrealistic standards. I consciously try not to fall into this trap because I know it’s not healthy - especially for someone with an anxious mind such as myself.

But sometimes even I find myself staring at a photo (for way too long) wondering what other people will think… I edit and compare and delete and go back and forth between two almost identical pictures for longer than I’d like to admit… and then once I’ve posted my final decision, I continuously refresh my news feed hoping I get a bunch of "likes" that will somehow elevate my self esteem.

A lot of people spend a lot of time trying to get "likes" online. The society we live in today often suggests that an individual's self worth or success is based on that little number under their latest Insta post - and I honestly hate that idea.

But I have some potentially good news for ya, my friend.

At Facebook’s annual conference this year, it was announced that Instagram is trying a new experiment in Canada. The platform has introduced a feature called “private like counts”, which basically hides the amount of "likes" a picture or video has received from the general public. The user can privately see exactly how many "likes" their post gets, but nobody else can.

And as you can probably imagine, the internet had a lot to say about it.

Some people hate it and believe that it will put influencers at a huge disadvantage. They think that sponsors will be less likely to work with influencers and that online opportunities will decrease. Some also believe that the platform just won’t be the same without the visible “likes” and want others to be able to see how many people approve of their posts.

Other people love the idea and think that this is the best update Instagram has made in a very long time. They think it will encourage more genuine and unique content from users as it won’t be all about the amount of “likes” you get on a photo anymore - but rather about the quality of the content you’re putting out instead. They also feel that sponsors will be more likely to work with influencers that accurately represent their brand, instead of just picking someone based on the amount of “likes” they recieve.

Instagram was made for people to express their individual perspectives, and I personally think that the platform has completely veered away from their initial starting point. Nowadays it’s more about trying to fit in any way you can to accumulate the most amount of “likes” you can get - whether that be through posting a revealing photo or a picture of you in a car that you would never actually be able to afford. People are much more concerned about how the world perceives them and use social media as a way to compare themselves to others - most of the time to strangers with professionally edited photos. I think this update could make Insta a better and safer place for a lot of users. I think it could help a lot of people's self esteems and thus their mental health. I see this as a step in the right direction and applaud Facebook for even suggesting the experiment.

I hope the “private like counts” feature sticks and people see the potential behind an idea like this. I’d love to see more genuine posts and people feeling better about themselves online.

- A