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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Instagram doesn’t care who likes you

Instagram does next to nothing by removing public like counts 

Instagram said the removal of likes will reduce bullying on their platform and create a healthier environment for its users. But what the removal of tracking likes actually does is next to nothing to stop bullying or create a healthier environment. The actual consequences of this action are yet to be fully seen. 

Seeing the endless feed of highlights from our friends on Instagram may feed some with a feeling of pride or happiness, but in reality it is simply an inaccurate depiction of how life really is. Our lives are not perfect, so why should our feeds be?

In October 2010, Instagram started as a social app for photographers. It quickly transitioned into something else and allowed us all to be photographers. It seemed like the opposite of Twitter where users could endlessly argue — Instagram was a place for images without words. Since then, the platforms have moved closer and closer together. 

Removing likes from Instagram in an attempt to make the platform a safer place seems like a half-hearted move. With one billion monthly users and more than 500 million daily users, there are still classic metrics of bullying that will always prevail. Descrimination and antagonism based on how people present themselves will still remain. Removing a popularity meter that tracks how many people double tap on an image is a miniscule action to take in combating bullying. 

Instead, Instagram should be giving users the option to remove the like count from posts, similar to the ability of users to turn off commenting on specific posts. How is having the ability to remove likes any different? It most likely has something to do with Instagram’s mandatory timeline algorithm which determines what posts you see and when. No one really knows how it works. 

My experience with the removal of the like counter has been largely forgettable. The only thing that jumps out to me anymore is who Instagram decides to display right before “and others.” If the number of likes is no longer there, what replaces it still carries importance. 

Social media demetrication is the most likely phenomenon Instagram followed to get rid of a public like count. Popularized by Benjamin Grosser with demetricator tools, social media demetrication is the attempt to help us become less reliant on numbers that mean less than we actually think. Perhaps outside of all the numbers that come along with our social media accounts there is a happy medium where Instagram can find a safer and more authentic space, but I just don’t see it. Social media and social life are constructed on social standards that are inherently unhealthy and cruel. 

We can all be better people. The only way to create a healthier social media environment is to cultivate a healthier social circle for ourselves by using the tools available to us. Blocking and muting are wonderful tools when used to combat hate on the internet — hopefully Instagram can implement the capabilities necessary to do so. 

Written by: Calvin Coffee — cscoffee@ucdavis.edu

(This article is humor and/or satire, and its content is purely fictional. The story and the names of “sources” are fictionalized.)


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