Removing the “Like”
Facebook could soon start hiding the number of likes on a post and Instagram has already begun testing this feature in 7 countries. The rationale behind this change is to help users avoid envy and self-censorship. The removal of the “like” counter could change the nature of how an influencer operates and it will also change the way brands determine the success of an influencer campaign. Companies may start relying more on hard metrics like sales, rather than engagement with a post. It’s too soon to know the full extent of the fallout from this change, but it’s worth considering whether this will impact the stated goal of this experiment.
Can Instagram cure envy? This proposition seems too lofty to be achieved, after all, envy preexisted “likes” and it will certainly survive it. One of the drivers of this resentment is people comparing their real-life with the filtered version of life on social media, removing the “like” doesn’t erase this natural impulse to covet what someone else has. Will Facebook be able to prevent people from censoring themselves on social media? It probably won’t hurt, but decades of court rulings on the side of free speech didn’t stop self-censoring. The main driver of self-censoring on social media is the fear of “cancel culture.” Nothing will silence someone faster than their own fear that a single bad post will foment a mob whose only goal is to chastise them relentlessly. If social media is the cause of these problems, then there is a reason to doubt their ability to be the solution.