Opinion: Instagram’s removal of likes could benefit artists

Instagram’s decision to hide likes on images may encourage users to prioritize art and quality.

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Opinion: Instagram’s removal of likes could benefit artists

Becca Bright, Columnist

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Social media has become a social market “liked” around the globe.

Instagram is a nearly decade-old platform that has 1 billion monthly users, including actress Jennifer Aniston, President Obama, and your ex-girlfriend. Users have successfully evolved Instagram’s design from a personal digital gallery to a Times Square of advertisement and promotion.

Through this economy, the Instagram community earns millions of dollars monthly. However, this economy of “likes” can undervalue the image itself.

Instagram seems to acknowledge this. In a number of countries, including the U.S., the company has been testing hiding images’ likes on users’ feeds. The user can see the response to what they share, but it’s not public so the image or video stands alone.

Generally, the public has recognized how social media can be used with bad intentions. Like-chasing content may appeal to a broad audience, but it can be damaging to the art itself.

The art community has used this platform to share their skills in graphic design, makeup, fashion, and of course, photography. These creatives include students, established artists, and “influencers.”

The work is not valuable primarily because of how many people view it; the value comes from the artwork itself. The Mona Lisa’s worth is not the 6 million people that see it every year at the Louvre.”

Influencers, both small and large, are split on Instagram’s removal of likes. Big influencers argue that likes not being invisible in Instagram’s feed may discourage audiences from interacting with content.

Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri defends the company’s decision with this new feature. Mosseri believes the removal of likes will “give people more space to focus on connecting with the people they love and things that inspire them.’’

Mosseri is right in that the space Instagram provides should be used for connection and not necessarily for profit.

This is not to say it’s an abuse of the platform to use Instagram to create earnings. It’s very much the opposite — creatives need to use digital resources to support themselves and their portfolios. However, an economy of likes should not be incentive for sharing art.

The value of an image should be the image itself, like a portrait in a museum of art. The work is not valuable primarily because of how many people view it; the value comes from the artwork itself. The Mona Lisa’s worth is not the 6 million people that see it every year at the Louvre.

It’s the same with a well-composed picture uploaded to Instagram. The worth of that photo should not be how many people liked it. It should be how much you like what that image shows.

Having likes be invisible to users other than yourself is a benefit everyone should be open to. It will emphasize the quality of work being shared by creatives. To depend on the monetary meaning of a number of tiny red hearts under a picture is a gamble.

After all, what’s shared on the internet is forever in one way or another. Likes may become receipts of an image that will expire, but the images on Instagram we choose to share won’t. So, choose your posts wisely.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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