With Mental Health Awareness Month (May) right around the corner, Instagram is testing a potential new update that could be a game changer for the platform, as we know it.
At Facebook’s (FB) annual developer conference, F8, in San Jose it was announced that this test run being done in Canada is focused on the removal of likes from the main feed, permalink pages and profiles. Only the owner of the account will be able to see the likes, shown currently as hearts on the app, a post has received.
Like we said—game changer.
“We are testing this because we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get,” an Instagram spokesperson said.
According to some studies, Instagram is the most detrimental social networking app for young people’s mental health. “Likes are powerful because they are immediate feedback,” said Renee Engeln, a psychology professor at Northwestern University. “In a way, likes give you the same kind of hit like a gambler gets at a slot machine.”
With suicide and bullying rates increasing among adolescents, and social media often being blamed as the culprit, it makes sense that Instagram wants to make this shift. While this may address the photo sharing app’s reputation for being a “popularity contest,” it still won’t completely solve self-esteem issues such as FOMO. Not to mention, it will change the way influencers and brands measure engagement on their pages, having to heavily rely more on comments and follower count.
Twitter may also be taking a step in this direction after Kanye West shared a text conversation with their CEO Jack Dorsey about the same subject. So will likes become a thing of the past?