Adam Mosseri, Facebook
Beck Diefenbach | Reuters
Once the main currency of social media posts, "likes" on Instagram may soon be a thing of the past.
Facebook, which has Instagram, has promoted its recent movement to hide likes in user posts as an effort to reduce harassment in the popular social application.
But the motivation goes beyond that. There is also a hypothesis within the company that hiding "likes" will increase the number of posts people make to the service, by making them feel less self-conscious when their posts don't have much commitment, three former employees told CNBC. These people requested anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss internal strategies in the company.
More posts means that users spend more time on Instagram and, therefore, increases the company's ability to display more ads. Instagram is a critical part of the future of Facebook. It is the most popular social application among teenagers, and has more than one billion monthly users. That includes 500 million daily users of the Stories feature that was introduced in 2016 to compete against a popular feature of the same Snapchat name. Analysts now value Instagram at more than $ 100 billion, or about a fifth of Facebook's total market capitalization.
Instagram declined to comment on their reasons for the change.
Less pressure, more publications
Since Facebook announced the experiment to eliminate likes in April, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri has linked him to efforts against cyberbullying on the social network.
"It's because we want people to worry a little less about the amount of likes they get on Instagram and spend a little more time connecting with the people they care about," Mosseri said at the Facebook F8 developer conference in April . The next slide in the presentation included the words "Leading the fight against online harassment."
Mosseri came back to the idea
again. At a Wired conference in October, he said: "The idea is to try to depressurize Instagram, to make it less of a competition, to give people more space to concentrate on connecting with the people they love and the things that inspire them."
But Facebook's own research suggests that hiding as counts could also increase the amount of posts that Instagram users make.
In recent years, as Instagram content became more polished and saturated with content from influential professional people, whom advertisers pay to promote particular products, the platform began to see more users delete or archive their original posts, Especially the publications that did not receive many likes, one of the former employees said.
The growth of Facebook and data science teams developed a hypothesis that getting rid of the “ likes & # 39; & # 39; It would make users feel less aware of themselves when their posts don't get much participation, which drives them to publish more.
Facebook has always investigated the “ likes & # 39; & # 39 ;, but the company began experimenting specifically with the idea of removing likes from Instagram in 2018, people said. The experiment began as part of the Instagram wellness project before Mosseri took over the social network in October 2018, one of the sources said, but Mosseri has prioritized it. "I have spent a lot of time personally on this," he said in October.
Depending on the changes, users will no longer be able to compare the likes of their posts with their peers, but still receive a notification for each Like. Those notifications could serve as an additional catalyst to get users to post more frequently.
In addition, people on Instagram tend to mimic the behaviors of their friends and close relatives, so making some users start posting original content more frequently could create a viral effect, former employees told CNBC.
Mosseri once briefly acknowledged that eliminating "likes" could increase engagement, tweeting "It is likely that it affects [sic] the number of people participating in Instagram, they probably like it a little less and publish a little more …"
External experts agree that the hypothesis has merit.
Remove the “ likes & # 39; & # 39; Eliminates the peer pressure that average users feel when posting content that is as perfect as their most expert social media friend, a professional influencer or a celebrity, said Dylan Farella, director of social networks at Talent Resources, a marketing of influencers at New York. firm.
"There will be nothing that discourages you from posting more," Farella said.
It could harm influencers
Although deleting the likes I could encourage users to post more, it could also harm the influencers, said one of the former employees.
Celebrities and influential people benefit from what is known as a "similar impulse," which means that a user may like your post because they see that one of their friends has already liked it or because they see a high count of me. Like and join.
Getting rid of this mafia mentality could reduce the commitment influencers see in their content, thus reducing the amount they can charge brands to promote their products.
Instagram doesn't want to scare off influencers, but since the influence ecosystems in rivals Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter are much less developed, Facebook knows they have few other services to turn to, said one of the former employees.
CLOCK: Here we show you how to see which applications have access to your Facebook data, and cut them
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