Hidden likes

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Hidden likes
The social media economy and influencer industry thrive on likes and fans – at the expense of our mental health. What if those weren’t visible?

No matter how you feel about it, Instagram is a legitimate career path and bona fide industry. Everyday people can leverage its most visible metrics to become internet stars with mega power. Nanoinfluencers (with 1 to 10,000 followers) can make $30,000 (£24,000) to $60,000 a year via brand partnerships. Micro-influencers (with 10,000 to 50,000 loyal fans) report earnings between $40,000 and $100,000 dollars annually. Established influencer powerhouses can become millionaires.

But the app’s environment has become increasingly pressurised and competitive. Regular users are inundated with sponsored, manipulated and hyper-curated content as Instagrammers frantically chase engagement. To alleviate this, Instagram has proposed hiding public likes altogether, much to the dismay of influencers. Likes are a so-called ‘vanity metric’ and they have long been a bargaining chip for content creators as an instant indication of popularity. Influencers might now have to work harder to secure brand collaborations via internal metrics and third-party data access.

An initial test phase of the hidden likes initiative in Canada has now been rolled out to six more countries. Mental health campaigners are breathing a collective sigh of relief as ‘like culture’ perpetrates endless comparison and Instagram is cited as having a particularly detrimental effect on mental wellbeing. There are also whispers about Twitter moving to conceal engagement rates too. These changes may not ultimately tamper with the allure of the influencer, but they willserve to make the social landscape for individuals and internet personality brands a tad friendlier.

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Image credit: Piero Zagami and Michela Nicchiotti.