Instagram plans to change the concept of the platform, making Like counts invisible. This means that only the user who published the post will see how many likes he or she received. The company believes that in this way, followers will focus on the text and the message of publication, rather than on the number of likes. Such grandiose innovations seem to be quite harmless, useful and practical, however, they will significantly affect the welfare of users.
The company believes that by hiding Like counts, herd instincts to give preference to what is popular with others will be minimized. Moreover, it will help get rid of self-criticism and comparing yourself with more popular friends, successful bloggers and superstars. Also, it will contribute to improving the quality of content, as users will pay more attention to the semantic load and accuracy of photos and video materials that they publish.
Jane Manchun Wong, who is TechCrunch’s private consultant and qualified expert in reverse engineering, was the first to discover the various functions of Instagram before the announcement to the public. Wong noticed the test design in the Instagram Android code, which doesn’t display Like counts, making them visible only to the creator of the publication.
Many Instagram users delete their posts if they think they lacked enough likes. It also prompted developers to hide the Like counts, as they believe that this will help people become more self-confident and will awaken the desire to publish more posts because they will not be dependent on universal encouragement or suffer because of comparing themselves with other users. and will be less shy.
TechCrunch received feedback from Instagram, which stated that it confirmed the existence of a prototype version of the new design that is not available to all users yet. A spokesman for the company said that at the moment this version is not being tested, as Instagram is still considering various ways to minimize social pressure within the system. Also, there were rumours about the development of additional features that greatly diversify the possibilities of Instagram. These updates include the development of the ability to make video calls, add soundtracks for Stories and use the panel that displays the amount of time spent on Instagram. These ideas are under development.
In addition to the new version of the design, Jane Manchun Wong discovered several other Instagram prototypes, located in the same Android code. They were even more impressive as they covered: various augmented reality filters for calls via Direct Video, the ability to watch the recommended videos via Direct, add karaoke-style texts to Stories, use emoji reactions to posts from the news feed, and the availability of a shopping bag to create more convenient conditions for making purchases through the Instagram platform.
It seems that Instagram does not intend to hide such indicators as the number of comments and followers, which will reflect the popularity of the account and will become a true beacon for determining high-quality content and mutually beneficial cooperation. Moreover, even if the Like counts are invisible, they will still have a great influence on the issuance of publications and pages in the search tape. Therefore, hiding them will not eliminate the need to fight for user promotion in the form of likes.
Such global plans to change the design are fueled by an increase in pressure on the psyche of people who, seeing large numbers of likes, give in to the herd instinct and put hearts because a certain publication has already attracted a lot of attention, not because it contains really interesting and useful content. Twitter has gone through a similar path of liberation from social pressure. The developers tested a version of the platform where retweet counts were hidden from public view to avoid false competition. At the same time, Snapchat, from the very beginning of its appearance, hid like and follower counts, but it should be noted that it is less popular with influential people, since they cannot conduct their usual activities and get the same high and fast profits as in other social networks with open indicators.
Now Like counts are more likely to cause negative experiences, such as envy, narcissism and low self-esteem, than just a harmless indicator. Moreover, the number of likes provoked the formation of a hierarchy of statuses, which was not previously seen on social networks. And if Instagram was created as a tool for self-expression, the manifestation of originality and connection with the world, now it looks more like a race for numbers and is not very different from the banal popularity contest. Therefore, the company seriously thought about changing the design to return Instagram users the opportunity to be creative, active and not be afraid of being themselves.