Instagram has removed “likes” on posts and it is impacting teens more than expected.
Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms among teens today. At Suncoast, students are constantly using their Instagram to connect with their friends and meet new people.
In the past, users have been able to post photos of things ranging from selfies to their favorite memes. In September 2019, however, Instagram made a change to the app that impacted its users in a big way. For the purpose of experimentation, Instagram has removed the ability to view the number of likes that a person has received on a post for a portion of their users. Now, only some profiles can observe likes.
While Instagram has received backlash from some of the more popular users, dubbed “social media influencers,” arguing that it will hurt their platform, this change is much larger than Instagram fame.
For teenage girls, social media can have a huge effect on their self esteem during such formative years of their lives. Instagram “models” and celebrities set an example for what young girls think that they should live up to. In a new generation of social media, girls are being taught that their worth is based on a number of likes, which is very unhealthy for an adolescent’s confidence.
“I feel like there has always been girls that only care about how many likes their posts will get,” junior Mallory Reale said, “Some people will even delete posts that don’t get ‘enough’ likes.”
By removing likes, Instagram has unintentionally begun to put a halt to the “like=worth” culture. Young girls who are just starting out on the platform are less worried about how many likes they get in comparison to others, and teenagers who have been on the platform for a while are now learning to let go of the pressure of getting “enough” likes.
“I am pretty new to Instagram and I think that removing likes was really smart. All my friends were always so focused on how many likes they got and it kept me from making an account for a long time,” senior Liel Shamash said, “It makes the app one of my favorite ways to connect with my friends now and we don’t care about likes anymore.”
Because users can only see how many likes their own posts receive, rather than others, it eliminates the act of labelling a person by the number of likes that they receive. It allows girls to have more freedom in what they want to post and releases them from the weight that a like number can have on a teen’s self esteem. Removing likes is a step in the right direction in making social media a less toxic community for young girls.