In Summary
  • In what may eventually see a change of the site as we know it, an announcement made this week by Instagram’s parent company Facebook stated that the provisional feature will be applicable in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand.
  • In the countries affected by the test phase, an Instagram user can click on a button to see how many people have “liked” his or her post and who they are, but that information is not visible to other users.
  • While many were in agreement with Instagram’s experimental feature, not everyone applauded the move, as witnessed in comments under the post announcing it.

The decision by social networking site Instagram to experiment with a feature that hides the number of 'likes' on posts and also keeps private the count of people who have watched a video has triggered debate on the race for popularity on social networks.

In what may eventually see a change of the site as we know it, an announcement made this week by Instagram’s parent company Facebook stated that the provisional feature will be applicable in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand.

The BBC reports that the new feature has been applying to Canadian users since May.

NO PRESSURE

Ms Mia Garlick, the Facebook director of policy in Australia and New Zealand, told the BBC that Instagram expects to have relaxed users as a result of the modification.

“We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive so that you can focus on sharing the things you love,” she said.

In the countries affected by the test phase, an Instagram user can click on a button to see how many people have “liked” his or her post and who they are, but that information is not visible to other users.

“We’re looking forward to learning more about how this change might benefit everyone’s experience on Instagram,” stated Facebook.

Ms Garlick said the goal is to ensure users feel less judged and for Instagram to see “whether this change can help people focus less on likes and more on telling their story”.

WELL-BEING

As more smartphones land in the hands of Kenyans, the image-sharing social media site is fast-becoming the go-to platform for those who love to share bits of their lives in photos and videos.

Other social media sites popular in Kenya that rely on “likes” and comments are Facebook and Twitter.

The likes are usually in the form of a thumbs up or love button and emojis (images used in electronic messages). Some influential users who have monetised their social media accounts use rely on such statistics to get clients and account for the online work assigned.

The reception of such posts — usually by “likes”, video views and comments — has a considerable impact on a person’s well-being.

In fact, a 2017 study on 1,479 young people by the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health revealed that Instagram may be fuelling a mental health crisis with its features.

EFFECTS

Mr Fabio Ogachi, a lecturer at the psychology department of Kenyatta University, did a related study in Kenya in 2015.

Page 1 of 2