It’s estimated that 1 billion people use Instagram every month to share photos, upload videos and find inspiration for everything from new recipes to beauty hacks.
However, in recent years experts have warned that social media platforms can contribute to poor mental health. A study by The Royal Society for Public Health claimed that ‘social media may be fuelling a mental health crisis’ and ‘may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people’. New York University professor Adam Alter, author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked explains that when we get ‘likes’ on social media our brain releases dopamine, known as the pleasure chemical. But when we don’t get the response we’re hoping for it can increase feelings of loneliness, according to another report.
In an attempt to tackle this, Instagram has announced that they will be trialling a new feature which hides how many likes your photos get in order to ‘remove pressure’.
It was tested in Canada earlier this year and has now been rolled out in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Brazil. While the users will still be able to see how many people have ‘liked’ their photos and videos, their followers won’t see the number. Instead, there will be a vague ‘liked by others’ message underneath.
The idea is that it will reduce feelings of inadequacy when it comes to how many ‘likes’ your uploads get, with Mia Garlick, Facebook Australia and New Zealand director of policy, telling the BBC: ‘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.’
They hope that ‘this change can help people focus less on likes and more on telling their story.’ When the feature was tested in Canada, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri said: ‘We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about.’