Should social media allow users to hide 'like' and follower numbers? | The Tylt
How many times do you refresh your Instagram feed after you've posted something? Social networks are a regular part of the daily routine for most, sometimes even dominating that routine. These networks provide instant connectivity, but for many, participation translates to constant comparison. Twitter says it wants to hide engagement counts like "likes" to promote a healthier platform. If Instagram or Facebook followed suit, would you still use the apps?
Should social media allow users to hide 'like' and follower numbers?
Twitter hinted at big changes during the 2019 South by Southwest conference. According to NBC's Chiara Sottile, Twitter's new look opts to hide engagement counts like "likes" and retweets. The team at Twitter says setting these numbers aside will make the entire platform friendlier.
Sottile spoke with Keith Coleman, Twitter’s head of consumer product, on the changes ahead:
“We’re also actually working on changing the product and changing the policies to improve the health of the conversations,” Coleman said, pointing to faster and more “proactive” enforcement including the takedown of accounts spreading hoaxes and conspiracy theories.
Not everyone is happy about Twitter's potential changes. Many feel the platform is bowing to pressure from high-profile users who are embarrassed by their "ratio," or when the number of responses on a tweet exceeds that of likes and retweets.
Kanye West took to Twitter in 2018 to advocate for the option to hide engagement numbers from view. Kanye, who has 28.4 million followers on Twitter, admitted the numbers have a negative impact on his mental health.
Kanye's advocacy proves critics' point about the type of user concerned about showing engagement numbers. For the average person on social media, reveling in "like" and follower counts is simply fun.
When you post something on social media, chances are you are announcing something to friends and family; you might be showing them where in the world you are traveling, telling everyone about a new job or showing friends an apartment in a new city. Seeing who likes your post is akin to conversing with friends about both major and minor life moments.
YouTube allows users to hide their subscriber count, and Reddit doesn't show follower counts at all. If other social networks were to catch on, giving users the option to hide the number of followers they have or the number of "likes" they accrue, users would be less inclined to compare their numbers to others.
Given the addictive nature of social media, opting to hide these kinds of metrics certainly would not hurt.
But where would we be without legendary social media moments like Beyonce's pregnancy announcement or Kylie Jenner's introduction of Stormi Webster to the world?
Whether it's good for your own mental health or not, "likes" help social media users to see and discuss key moments in culture, politics and much more. If celebrities like Kanye hide their engagement numbers, users' interactions with the medium could shift.