In 2017, the Royal Society for Public Health published the results of a study that labeled Instagram “the worst social media network for mental health and well-being.” The study reported that the platform prompts a “compare and despair” feeling among young users, one that negatively affects their emotional health.
It took a while, but Instagram started to address the problem this year by removing the public display of “like” counts in several countries, among them Canada, Japan, Italy and Brazil. This didn’t quite eliminate the “like” as social currency – users can view the totals for their own posts – but making the numbers less public had the effect of neutering comparisons. (e.g., Only 20 “likes” for all to see? Must be a dog of a post. Delete!)
The reaction to the move has largely been positive, to the extent that Instagram’s older sibling, Facebook, is testing a similar scheme. While it probably goes without saying, the proposed changes have captured healthcare marketers’ attention, especially given that “likes” in the health and wellness context often celebrate good news vis-à-vis treatments or diagnoses.