Likes for posts are now present on every social network. It is a controversial mechanism, which, in the last few years seems to have caused more harm than good. An ever increasing number of users are swayed by these figures, designing content according to the number of likes received from their followers.
However, this approach goes against the very idea of the social network, a place where the user should always feel free to express themselves and post whatever they like. The purpose of a social network is to be yourself, not what society expects you to be. This is why Instagram (the most popular social network among young people) has decided to carry out an unusual experiment.
Removal of likes from posts: can it work?
The removal of likes from Instagram posts is currently being tested in some countries, including Italy. The idea is to alleviate pressure on users by hiding the number of little hearts received, so as to give them a greater sense of freedom when choosing content to post.
The fear of not receiving enough likes in fact, is very limiting and harmful to the user. A post with lots of visible likes risks being appreciated not for its actual quality, but only for the number of likes it has managed to attract.
The social network therefore becomes a negative instrument which runs the risk of changing the individual user’s personality, making them dependent on the sense of satisfaction they experience when they receive appreciation from followers. Studies carried out by expert psychologists have shown how the perception of one’s self is worryingly linked to the numbers obtained on social networks nowadays.
The solution of removing likes from the posts seems therefore a good one if you consider it solely from the users’ point of view. Some direct testimonies gathered in the first few months of the experiment seem to have provided positive feedback on this initiative, with many people finally feeling freed from the weight of social networks.
As well as an improvement in the psycho-physical health of users, another direct consequence of this solution is the potential end of a battle which has been going on for years now: the purchasing of likes. This practice has become common thanks to the need to ‘beat everyone else’, but forking out money to increase that total makes no sense now that nobody can see it anymore.
Regardless of the more or less noble reasons why social networks are thinking of removing likes from posts, it is apparent that the benefits for users are real and substantial. Those who work with social networks however (influencers and businesses), could find themselves facing a range of problems.
Companies use the number of likes in order to decide whether to invest in an influencer to promote their products via specific collaborative projects. Making the likes invisible could therefore have serious implications from a commercial point of view.
Consequences of the absence of likes
The choice made by Instagram is certainly a very brave one, in particular because history teaches us that users never welcome drastic change. The risk of protests against such a radical change to one of the core systems could provoke a popular revolt which could potentially be very harmful for the companies who control the social networks.
This explains the decision to opt for a gradual approach, by introducing the modifications gently and only in certain regions at a time. The data gathered will help the larger companies to understand how the public will react to this change in real time, giving them the opportunity to modify their strategy if necessary.
Removing likes from posts is a gamble based on a strategy with a clear objective. Now all that remains is to see how things will develop and how the public will react to the change.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith