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Instagram is Hiding Likes Now. Why?

Worldwide, Instagram is testing out a new feature where likes will be hidden underneath people’s photos.

Instagram baddies right now:

Sorry, Instagram baddies. But yes, it is here. The Gram’s CEO Adam Mosseri says the motive behind it is to make the platform “less of a competition” between users, and it’s being branded as a mental health play. Very easy to see how they could arrive at this conclusion: they remove the number of the likes on your pictures, you stop caring, and boom! All your insecurities go away. Makes perfect sense, right?

No. Not right.

While IG may be painting this perfect image of trying to “fix” the Internet, there are plenty of people online (myself included) who think there’s definitely more to it than me looking over my shoulder to see who gets more likes than me.

The conspiracy theory (which probably isn’t far-fetched) is that this is about one thing and one thing only – dollars. For years now, brands have been collaborating with influencers on Instagram and leveraging their large followings to promote their products. This has been a two-way street: either brands reach out to influencers, or vice versa, and other than their followers, likes are a common metric used to show the impact that particular influencer has.

Now ask yourself this – in that whole exchange of value, how does Instagram win?

Truth is, they don’t. Or at least, they haven’t been. Influencers are the real winners, because rather than paying for sponsored ads on the platform, brands could just give the influencers free products and still reach large audiences. Eliminating likes removes some power from the influencers and limits their ability to prove that they have “impact” and engage with their audiences. Without that proof, where will businesses go? They will turn their backs on influencers and go back to sponsored Instagram ads, which means more advertisement revenue for Mosseri and co. Business accounts are also having their likes hidden, so this is definitely about more than just mental health. A lot of people have also raised eyebrows on the fact that Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, hasn’t always had the perfect scorecard when it comes to being on a moral high horse.

Whichever way you want to look at it, it’s definitely an interesting topic for discussion. How do you feel about IG hiding likes?

Written by @Wenguss