Facebook solves the like problem

The Like button was one of Facebook’s most important developments. Users on Instagram and Facebook can now leave the competition for the most Likes behind.

A user in front of a monitor with an Instagram logo

DThe number of likes on Instagram and Facebook will be optional. That said the Instagram boss Adam Mosseri on Tuesday evening in an interview with journalists. According to a message from the Facebook group, users will be able to decide for themselves “how and where they want to see the number of likes”.

For the contributions of other users, the display can be set centrally in the privacy settings; for their own contributions, the users would have to decide this individually for each contribution. The function will be activated in the coming days.

No impact on wellbeing

Hiding the number of likes should help reduce social pressure on the platform, Mosseri said. Many users compare the number of likes their posts get with those of other users. Social media, especially Instagram, have been repeatedly accused of causing an increase in mental illness among teenagers.

In tests, according to Mosseri, Instagram has examined how the change will affect the behavior and well-being of users. “The behavior has hardly changed,” said the 38-year-old manager, who has been at the top of the photo platform since 2018. The same applies to the user’s point of view on Instagram. “And well-being has not even changed at all.”

Influencers are divided

Instagram had been experimenting with different settings since 2019. Completing these tests and finding a solution that would apply to all users “took longer than I had hoped,” said Mosseri. The reason for this was therefore the pandemic. The programmers would have had to take care of other projects during that time.

The reactions to the hidden number of likes were very polarized, said Mosseri. “Some really liked that. Others were frustrated because they wanted to know what is currently important and trendy on Instagram, “said the head of the platform. Especially influencers, i.e. users who earn money through sponsored content on Instagram, with few followers, the like numbers were important. Influencers with many fans, on the other hand, could have done without it. That is why it was decided to let the users decide for themselves. The innovation applies to both Instagram and the sister platform Facebook.

For the group, the decision means a turnaround. The introduction of the Like button is considered to be one of the platform’s most important design developments. Some researchers compare the feelings of happiness that the user gets when they receive a likes with the effects of drugs. For years, the group took action against independent programmers and artists who used their own software solutions to hide the number of likes on the platforms.