What Will Happen if the ‘Like’ Feature Disappears on Social Media Platforms?

19 Jul 19

Over the last few months, rumours that Instagram may be removing the ‘like’ feature have been causing increasing concern. If this is true, what will happen? Well, let me tell you.

What is the purpose of the ‘Like’ feature?

The ‘Like’ feature has been around for ages and was a way to show a friend or company that you enjoyed their content and posts. This helped develop Social Media platforms and tailor feeds to users, as the algorithms of each platform could identify which posts you interact and engage with most, and continue to show you content that you would like to see based on the data they collected.

However, only having a ‘Like’ button – as was the case originally on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – likely reduced engagement, as there are other ways you might respond to posts on Social Media. For example, the content could make you angry or make you laugh etc, and you wouldn’t have a suitable way to respond to them. In response to this, Facebook introduced ‘Reactions’. The Reaction tool has been a brilliant update to Facebook and has likely increased engagement rates, as people can now show their feelings and responses in several different ways, increasing the chance that users will engage with posts.

Removing the ‘Like’ feature

Confusion struck when Instagram said that they would remove the ‘Like’ feature. The platform has recently started rolling out a new user interface for a select number of countries, this week. We have seen the change in:

  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Brazil
  • Australia
  • New Zealand

Rather than a reduction in likes, we are seeing a restricted number of likes displayed on posts. For example, rather than seeing ‘zcsocialmedia, garethzcsocial and 29 others liked this post’, with the ability to view who else has liked it, users with the test interface are seeing ‘zcsocialmedia others liked this post’. However, the post creator is still able to see the amount of people and the different accounts that have liked the post.

In my opinion, removing the number of Likes and slowly testing removing the feature altogether could be a good idea, as this takes the pressure off users, especially the youth of today. On the personal profile side of Instagram, there is huge pressure, especially amongst younger people to have the most Likes and Followers on their profile. This isn’t inherently awful but the pressure that comes from this (and the sense of failure at not achieving this) has led to bullying and even been linked to eating disorders in teens as they try to replicate successful and popular accounts and posts promoting a certain body image. The U.K. are also experimenting with a new rule that will require Social Media platforms to disable the ‘Like’ button for users under 18, which may see in a decrease in Social Anxiety amongst younger users.

Why have Instagram done this?

Instagram has explained that this move is all part of a process of creating a ‘kinder, gentler Instagram’. It will be interesting to see how this will affect business pages though and to see whether it will impact the use of Influencers on Social Media for product placement and promotion. Influencers are usually required to have a high number of likes, followers and engagement on your profile. These stats will be hard to prove if it’s not visible on a profile, but we will see…

To conclude, if the ‘like’ feature disappears on Instagram, which we have already seen happening in some countries over the past week, I believe that it will take the pressure away from society to be ‘perfect’ from every angle and take away from the vanity of Instagram. I believe that sometimes the number of likes on a post will alter the view of people and cause them to like it for that reason. I think that taking away the likes will increase and maintain the authenticity of Instagram engagement.

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