This month saw Instagram roll out changes which mean you can no longer see how many likes an Instagram post has received. First tested in Canada, now Instagram has expanded the test to other countries, including Australia. Instagram claims that the removal of these ‘like counts’ will help improve the mental well-being of its users who get caught up waiting and watching to see how many likes their post has received.

It may perhaps improve the mental well-being of some users, but is this the true reason Instagram has made the change and why are so many people unhappy about it?

With their recent policy on anti-bullying, and now the removal of like counts, it does sound like Instagram has its user’s best interests at heart. They claim the removal of like counts will allow your followers to “focus on the photos and videos you share”, rather than being caught up with how many likes you have.

It is important for our readers to note that the change does not apply to content creators, you will still be able to access the metrics, however regular users will not be able to see the number of likes your post receives. As we researched more into the actual changes Instagram were rolling out, it became clear that you could actually still see who had liked your post. Users can’t easily see the like count on their post, but they are able to click through and see a list of all the users who liked their post. Mark Zuckerberg explained the changes in a similar way,

 “As you scroll through your feed, there are no like counts. You can see who liked a photo or video, you can tap through to see [the list], and if you have the time you can add them all up yourself.”

Meanwhile, not everyone believes these changes were made by Instagram for reasons of improved mental well-being. Dave Levett on Mumbrella believes it is to allow Instagram to sell more ads. In the past, when you could see the like count, small businesses who didn’t have a strong reach on social media were less inclined to advertise their post for fear their lack of engagement would be widely seen. With the like numbers removed, there is now no such barrier.

By removing the ability for people to see how many likes an ad has received, Instagram has allowed small businesses to advertise without the fear that their ads will have little engagement. – Dave Levett via Mumbrella

The changes are interesting. Does Facebook/Instagram really care about its users mental well-being? It is hard to think they are making these changes to their platform unless there is a positive financial gain in it for them. With the beta testing of its checkout system currently underway is the USA, we think there will be more changes instore for Instagram. Will these changes help or hinder small business? Time will tell.

 

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