Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has announced that Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Brazil have been selected for the trial. A similar scheme was launched in Canada in May.
The purpose of the trial will be to help users of the social media platform to shift their focus away from how many ‘likes’ or views their posts receive, and instead concentrate on sharing content they actually care about.
Typically, the success or popularity of a post on Instagram is measured by the number of likes or views it gets, this can lead to those posting content feeling pressured to share images or videos that will gain a high number of engagements.
Instead of seeing the number of likes or views a post has received, followers will see a user name “and others” below posts on their feed. Those posting the content will still be able to see the number of engagements their post receives. Similarly, the trial will not affect businesses who will still have access to all the normal engagement metrics.
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Facebook’s Australia and New Zealand director of policy, Mia Garlick, said Instagrammers should feel comfortable expressing themselves on the platform, rather than be ‘judged’ by the number of likes they get.
“We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love,” she said in a statement.
“We are now rolling the test out to Australia so we can learn more about how this can benefit people’s experiences on Instagram, and whether this change can help people focus less on likes and more on telling their story.”
The move comes amid concerns over the negative impact of social media on mental health. Likes can potentially boost the creator’s self-esteem, however, it can have a negative impact if their content gets too few likes, studies have suggested.
Similarly, people can also feel dejected and inadequate by comparing their content to more popular posts. Therefore, the elimination of the likes count would remove this potentially negative metric.
Instagram influencers in the trial countries could potentially feel the pinch as the removal of the number of likes, an easy-to-see metric that shows their popularity, will make it harder for them to advertise their value to businesses who pay them to endorse their products and services.
Despite the move, influencers will still be able to send their metrics to companies considering offering them sponsorship deals, but it may make it harder for those wanting to embark on a career as an influencer.
Australian based fitness and food influencer, Jem Wolfie, who has a following of 2.7 million on Instagram said of the move, “They said they’re doing it to take the competition out of posting – I’m not in competition with anyone on Instagram, I’m here to run a business. They’re taking a tool away that’s really important for us.”
A decision will be made at a later date on whether or not the update will be made permanent.