Losing Likes: The Road to Reduce Social Competition

They’re removing likes on Instagram and Facebook?! As in, “I won’t be able to see how many people liked my latest post?”

Social media primarily connects people to personal networks, businesses, places, events and more. These platforms provide a public ability to comment, like and share content with friends and even celebrities. So, what happens when the fundamental element of ‘likes’ is removed?

Well, Instagram has done just that and now Facebook is said to be trialling the move too. So let’s chat about gamification, cancel culture and the ability of platforms to help businesses connect with their consumers.

Are Social Platforms Losing Their ‘Cool’?

In April 2019 the decision was made for Instagram to trial the removal of a core element of gamification on their platform. The question on everyone’s lips is, why change the game?

From what we’ve seen, the portrayal of an ideal self & heavily curated imagery has rapidly swamped platforms across the digital sphere.

This, alongside competitive online business and a restrictive ranking algorithm, has developed what we now call ‘social competition’. As the old saying goes, ‘a little competition never hurt anyone’, but we’re now noticing a difference between healthy competition and the black hole of toxic online interaction.

Gone is Gamification: The Game Changer

Ironically, removing elements of gamification contradicts the building blocks of social platforms, which is to encourage engagement, sharing and interaction.

Unfortunately, providing space for interaction doesn’t inhibit a user’s ability to engage in a negative way. In effect, cancel culture and cyberbullying have since taken the internet by storm - a storm that doesn’t seem to be passing anytime soon.

Not to mention, the idea of curating the perfect imagery and portraying a flawless life is made possible with endless editing apps and encouraged by the numerical system we’re all too familiar with - likes and followers. Additionally, hierarchy is no new phenomenon to the human race and has inevitably seeped into social platforms.

Instagram stated that, “We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.”

Evidently, the platform principle of gamification & interaction, whilst generally positive, has since been reconsidered. This powerful move has generated a somewhat positive response which now sees Facebook jumping on the bandwagon.

Facebook Feels Like a Change

Removing likes is designed to improve the experience of users online and since Instagram’s trial in April, a Facebook prototype for getting rid of like-counts was discovered in September by app researcher, Jane Manchun Wong.

Whilst Facebook hasn’t yet released a public user test, it looks like they’re seriously considering it. Let’s not forget that Facebook owns Instagram, so it naturally makes sense to trial a drastic change in interaction on the latter platform before tampering with the top of the pyramid.

Instagram is also known for day-to-day updates and image-focused content which lends to a more accessible and increased rate of interaction. On the other hand, Facebook has developed a reputation for large event announcements including weddings, holidays & lumped photo albums which entice massive amounts of engagement.

Unfortunately, these types of posts don’t come every day & Facebook may see removing like-counts as a way to encourage more frequent interaction rather than focus on once in a lifetime updates.

The platform’s apparent decline in popularity is also something to consider, even though it still boasts the largest audience pool online. Jumping on the bandwagon of banning like- counts may, in turn, help to conceal its apparent downfall and breathe new life into the platform.

Will losing likes change social networking norms? Only time will tell!

For now, keep clicking as you were and have a peek at our social links below.

Kind Regards,

The JA. Team