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The Big Change Looming in Social Media

Lush (UK) made more than a few heads turn when they closed their social media accounts. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter - gone. And, with over a million followers across these three platforms, Lush is making a huge statement. Even more, people are questioning: are they also making a huge mistake?

For a brand to disconnect from what are the three most important social platforms since social media became a thing is significant. Here’s something else that deserves our attention.

INSTAGRAM HIDES LIKE COUNTS IN LEAKED DESIGN PROTOTYPE.

That’s a real headline taken from Tech Crunch. It appears Instagram is looking to shift attention away from likes. More specifically, they’re testing a design where only the individual who shares the post will be able to see the like count. This can have several effects on the Instagram community where people routinely remove pictures from their feed if that picture doesn’t produce enough likes.

Social, Social Media?

In a recent study of 1,000 Gen Zers (born mid-1990s to early 2000s), 72% expressed that social media is distracting and 29% say it negatively impacts their self-esteem. According to Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom, likes are something his company has been trying to pull away from since it added the stories feature. Many experts site likes on any platform as a contributing factor to the declining collective psyche of this generation. With Instagram in particular, chasing likes has become nearly obsessive, along with acting as a gauge for how people feel about a particular visual moment.  

Removing likes will go a long way to reduce the anxiety that comes from posting strictly for attention. Users can now focus on posting meaningful moments without concern if thousands of other users double tap that image. It may also take the pressure off users who feel like their feeds should only have the “perfect” pictures.

What Does It All Mean?

Don’t expect too many other brands to be quitting social media any time soon. At the very least, what we’ll see as these platforms continue to grow is a more considerable effort to reduce negative behaviour. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently said, “We aren’t proud of how people have taken advantage of our service.” He vows to build a new framework focused on “building a systemic framework to help encourage more healthy debate, conversations and critical thinking.”

On a similar note, Facebook promised to take on the spread of fake news. Ahead of India’s elections, which run from April 11 till May 19, Director of Facebook’s Product Management for Civic Integrity, Samidh Chakrabarti, said the company has put in a “tremendous amount of efforts over the last two years” preparing for these elections. Facebook also announced a three-part plan coined “reduce, replace, inform,” to help combat hateful and problematic content.

What these actions represent is social platforms taking accountability. Yes, users are responsible for the content they produce, but it’s up to these platforms to discern if that content should be allowed to live on their platforms.

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