The “like” feature is one of the most cherished tools to gauge user activity on social networking platforms like Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR), and Instagram. The Like metric helps social media users to recognise that their posts are relished by their friends and followers. In turn, it also advises social media platforms to reap benefits by opting for which content to exhibit first, or which commercials a user is inclined to snap on.
“Like” feature has obviously set social media into a reputation and fame contest and takes users’ attention and engagement away from the quality posts and discussions.
According to the study from the Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center at the University of California at Los Angeles, “Likes” have been proved to activating the winning senses in the nervous system as conquering a contest, gaining wealth or having a bar of chocolate.
It’s is the time when tech giants are under the lenses of various investigating authorities and are being pushed to thoroughly revisit their strategies and features. Twitter and Instagram, however, have both conferred that they’re set to contemplate a world with no “Likes”.
At the prominent TED conference in April, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that if he were to develop Twitter from scratch, he would not keep “Likes” at this striking place. Dorsey also told that he rather will not portray the fan count as a famous feature.
Twtr, the app which is designed to test all new features and functionality before the public rollout, is exploring the idea of making the visibility of discussions more prominent, by making “Likes” and “Retweets” as optional elements to view.
Instagram is also found to be testing a similar feature. The under-test app may not show the number of people liked an update; instead, it will only show the name of the follower who liked it last.
Instagram is testing hiding like count from audiences,
as stated in the app: "We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get" pic.twitter.com/MN7woHowVN
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) April 18, 2019
The recent introduction of “emojis” by Facebook as an alternative to “Likes” also indicate that the social media titan is also looking beyond the Like feature.
It is found that there is a drowning psychological effect on social media users about what happens when someone’s friends don’t like their posts.
Almost all social media platforms have designed and treat “Likes” in the same way. Every “Like” notify the algorithm that determines which content has marked its presence. It also helps platforms to exhibit more targeted ads to users, which has a direct impact on the revenue book of social media players. More likes, more signals to an ad server to serve tightly bound ads, more ad dollars for companies. Thus getting rid of the “Likes” is an unfortunate business decision.
“The like structure could potentially be a dangerous thing for regular users, There’s also the silence factor. These are social networks that have billed themselves as your closest friends, but when people don’t react or give you any affirmation,” it can effect how a person feels, said Jeremy Littau, an associate professor of journalism and communication at Lehigh University.
Indeed, discarding the like count means less social pressure. Littau believes, on the flip side, that “likes” is an important data signal, both for the algorithm that determines which posts and ads to surface, and users, who want to know what their friends’ community likes. At the same time, discussion about the existence of Like is quite justified considering new features are able to pass better and accurate social signals to social media platforms. On the other side, social media users are finding Like more of distraction as when anyone Likes the discussion or comment there is a notification every time which majority of people find irritating enough. Though desperate users who cling on every like, switching off notifications is one simple way to pay less time on social media, the need for Like feature becomes debatable.
Undoubtedly, Like has become an important ingredient for social media platforms to keep users engaged in a quick session. But, in the absence of it, people will definitely express themselves by commenting, reacting, resharing, retweeting, for sure.
Social Media has become an integral part of daily life for billions of internet users, and probably it’s the best time for “Like” to get retire. Social media platforms need to offer relevant content and ads based on hundreds of tracked signals from features that are capable of learning users’ interest in a better way than Like.