This story is very important, even though it might not really seem like it is at first. The psychological and mental health benefits that come with stories like these are important. We have come to a place were social media platforms and their ability to alter some features is more important than ever.
Instagram has announced a test. This test would specifically hide the like button from photos and videos on Instagram in an effort to get people to focus more on content rather than the number of likes. As far as who is going to be a part of this test, it is going to begin this week and will only be rolled out in Canada. The like feature is one of the core elements of Instagram so this is sparking a debate on changing something that people specifically joined the platform for. However, you have people on the other side of this debate making the claim that having this like button is actually having a negative impact on the quality of the content and users mental health.
The head of Instagram Adam Mosseri was quoted on this as saying “we want people to worry a little bit less on how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend more a bit time connecting with the people they care about.
The thing is, these new moves and tests are not completely new for Instagram. I know most of us have noticed how many times they have changed their icon, layout and color scheme. In addition to those changes, they have made some specifically aimed at solving this sort of problem
In November of last year, they had a different roll out. In that test, Instagram was looking to reduce its emphasis on the follower count by placing them off center, on a much smaller font so Instagram has been making changes like this for some time now.
It is interesting looking at what experts say on this because the problem is partly about mental health and partly about content quality. You have some saying that because there now seems to be a formula on what gets the most likes, content becomes less interesting. They argue that if you take away the benefit of just working in a formula, you force people to post what they want not what they know will be liked. On the mental health side, however, the chase for likes has been linked to damaging perceptions of one’s self-worth. According to a 2017 report from the (RSPH) Royal Society of Public Health in the UK “Instagram is the most detrimental social networking app for young peoples mental health” with the author of the report stating that the app causes specifically women to “compare themselves against unrealistic, largely curated, filtered and Photoshopped versions of reality.”