woman taking a selfie while drinking coffee for social media

When social media giant Instagram announced the company would remove visible likes on posts, shock waves rumbled through the platform. After all, if no one could see who liked particular images, how could others be influenced to also like and engage with the content? Social media marketing also saw hiding likes as a huge potential problem. Because Instagram is free, advertisers depend on engagements with their products to drive revenues.

Hiding Instagram likes is a trial proposition limited to a few specific nations. The countries where users can no longer see how many likes a post received include:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • New Zealand

Hidden likes present a problem to some in social media because of the large numbers of people shut out from potentially useful information. A survey from May 2019, shows that 9,037,000 Australians use Instagram. Even though the number of users is slightly lower than when surveyed in September 2018, this is still a large representation of the population using the social media platform.


Are People Really Concerned With Likes?

Publicly showing the number of interactions with posts is typical across social media platforms. According to a Norwegian study, over 80 per cent of Generation Z and Millennial users check into social media daily.

Over 60 per cent of Generation X and 50 per cent of Baby Boomers look at their posts daily. The demographic of people 71 years old or older are the only group with less than half of its members peeking at their social media daily. However, the oldest group surveyed still has 40 per cent of social media users checking at least once a day.


Why Did Instagram Decide to Try Out the Idea of Hiding the Number of Likes on Posts?

During the developer conference that Facebook holds annually, the news of the planned change came to light. Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, qualified the announcement by saying improving connectivity is behind the change.

According to Mosseri, Instagram’s 111 million worldwide users are not focusing on what really matters, which is connecting with people. The belief is that publicly tallied likes distract from the content receiving likes based on content or personal value.

The point seems to have merit when you consider the fact that an image of an ordinary brown egg has the most Instagram likes. The egg picture, posted in January 2019 and owned by Chris Godfrey, collected well over 53 million likes on Instagram.


The world record egg has the most likes on Instagram


It surpasses the second most-liked Instagram photo of Kylie Jenner and her daughter Stormi. Jenner’s photo has a mere 18.7 million likes and was unseated as the top post when an account named @world_record_egg asked for support to break the world record for Instagram likes.

Responses to requests like this point to the fact that there are not 53 million Instagram users who would like an egg image for no reason. The likes came from instilling the notion that by promoting the image, individuals who participated were part of something larger than themselves.


Did Instagram Have More Than One Reason to Test the Idea of Hidden Likes?

Aside from wanting to promote organic connectivity, Instagram’s move to hide likes from public view stems from a desire to protect the well being of its users. Recent studies focusing on the mental health of users across multiple social media networks, show a disturbing link between depression and social media use, particularly among teenage girls.

Engagement metrics, the formal term for liking or otherwise interacting with a social media post, often receive praise as the best indicator of your performance and presence on social media platforms such as Instagram.

Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, emphasises the desire to make Instagram a less stressful place by eliminating the pressure to get a high number of likes on postings. Mosseri cites making Instagram a “less pressurised environment.” Eliminating the competition to collect the most likes should help in this endeavour.

Psychologists are frequently looking at the impacts of using social media on teens and young adults. A study from the United Kingdom shows that 14-year-old girls exhibit signs of depression and other mental health problems at a significantly higher rate than 14-year-old boys. The higher use of social media in girls points to the disparity between the groups. The study shows the more a girl uses social media, the more likely she is to suffer from depression and low self-esteem.

While it is naïve to believe hiding Instagram likes can eliminate the ties between social media and depression, reducing the competitive nature of Instagram can allow individuals the freedom to post what they enjoy. This directly opposes the common practice of posting images that the user believes will be popular with many others.

Additionally, postings of peers can still evoke feelings of isolation or a sense of being unwanted among Instagram’s youngest users. Professionals suggest limiting the number of hours young people spend on social media can help improve this problem.


What Are the Negative Effects of Instagram Hiding Likes From Public View?

  • Reducing Camaraderie Among Users – Even though some people may find it tempting to roll their eyes at movements such as the world breaking egg, it is important to note that, many Instagram users enjoy the sense of belonging that comes from a shared connection to a post. This is frequent among fans of sports teams and those with a particular interest with an icon or celebrity. By observing who likes a post, you can often meet people who share similar likes or dislikes.
  • Making Life Difficult for Social Media Influencers – Not all social media influencers will see negative impacts now that Instagram likes are not visible. The changes to Instagram will not scathe influencers who already represent several companies and have exceptionally large followings. However, influencers who are starting out or have a relatively small fan base will likely feel some pain from Instagram’s action. This is because many businesses simply look at how many likes an influencer can accumulate as a way to judge success.


An Instagram influencer


It is important to remember during this change that Instagram has not announced their new format is a permanent change. To continue to thrive, explore all avenues before you. Also, seeking the help of a professional in these matters is often a perfect solution to the Instagram problem.