Social media is evolving, constantly. New platforms and updates seem to be introduced every day to keep users active on all forms of social media. We’ve seen the addition of stories, face filters, and even the infamous Instagram live feature. Until now, one thing has remained constant: likes. 

Most of us have probably been exposed to the negative impacts of social media argument. From the looks of it, Instagram has been listening. Throughout 2019, Instagram has been experimenting with a private like count that is only visible to the person who posted. This experiment recently reached the United States and users have mixed feelings about the change.

Rapper Cardi B had some advice for Instagram. Cardi B utilized the Instagram TV feature to reveal that, “Instagram got a little nasty…when people started to like the comments…and reply back…” Cardi B believes that Instagram should have prioritized the comment section over likes because the comment section has a more severe impact on mental health.

Some medical professionals have inferred that this change is good but, “more needs to be done to ensure users’ mental health and well being.

At the Wired25 conference, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri claimed that, “[they] will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s well-being and health”. 

On November 14, Instagram released a statement via Twitter saying:

We’re expanding our test of private like counts globally. If you’re in the test, you’ll no longer see the total number of likes and views on photos and videos posted to Feed unless they’re your own. While the feedback from early testing in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand has been positive, this is a fundamental change to Instagram, and so we’re continuing our test to learn more from our global community. In addition, we understand that like counts are important for many creators, and we are actively thinking through ways for creators to communicate value to their partners.

All in all, like counts on all social media platforms are a method of quantifying a person’s popularity among their peers on the internet. While there are pros and cons to each side of the argument, Instagram appears to be moving in a progressive direction to please the general public in regard to mental health. 

The number of likes, shares, retweets, and comments may not matter to all of us, but it does matter to a lot of us. Changes such as a non-like focused platform will remove the pressure to please peers and allow the user to post ‘freely’ without the fear of his or her popularity being quantified. However, Cardi B did shed some light on the important issue that is the comment section. Not everyone on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook have been cyber-bullied, but the problem still stands tall. In the end, a non-like focused platform is simply a step in the right direction for all social media platforms to being the process of being a safe space for all users. 

Elizabeth F