Jorge Zhang

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Should Instagram Hide Likes?

Logging into Instagram a few minutes ago, I discovered that Instagram no longer displayed like counts on posts. At first I was pretty frustrated by the change- like all changes, it’s unsettling and weird at first. That got me thinking about whether this could actually be a positive change- and whether it is a good change for Instagram moving forward.


What is the Effect of This?

One of the direct effects of hiding likes on Instagram is the removal of an incentive to create posts “just for likes.” This is a big help to people who post obscure or niche photos, as it levels the playing ground. It also means that people will start posting more creative photos. On the other hand, it may make it harder for quality accounts to stand out from the rest of the crowd. A photo getting a lot of likes serves as a signal of popularity: thus, removing likes removes the ability for an account to show off how popular they are. For this reason, I think that Instagram’s change is great for personal accounts, and terrible for business accounts. A business wants to promote their products and reach as many people as possible- without likes, they have one less tool that can be used to show value in their products. On the other hand, individuals can have greater freedom to post the content that they want to post.

I am not sure what prompted Instagram to make this change. My suspicion is that it won’t be good for Instagram in the long run. Instagram makes money from ads- and by hurting business accounts, some businesses may not buy as many ads as they normally would. One possible solution Instagram could try in order to get the best of both worlds is to let the user decide whether their likes are public or not. This would give individuals the freedom to have a more creative account without the pressure of creating content that will get a lot of likes.

What do you think of Instagram’s removal of visible likes? Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

© 2020 Jorge Zhang