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Influencers Dodge the Bullet: Instagram, Facebook Users to Have Choice in Hiding 'Likes'

It looks like, for now at least, social media influencers are in the clear.

After lots of deliberation, Facebook announced last week it would give users everywhere the choice to hide "likes" on their Instagram and Facebook accounts. The move comes after multiple years of tests on hiding likes for users in select countries around the world.

Facebook's decision to allow users to choose whether or not to hide "likes" is a huge win for influencers, celebrities and others who depend on the "social proof" aspect of sky-high "likes" and "follower" counts on their profiles to generate income.

For example, according to Hopper HQ's Instagram Rich List 2020, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is said to command $1 million for each post before his massive Instagram following.

And it's not just for the superstars. Influencer marketing has become a giant industry where even accounts with as little as a couple of thousand followers can make money.

What did the influencers have to say about all of this?

Hip hop artist Nicki Minaj was an early naysayer to Facebook's initial plan to scrap "likes," saying in 2019 that she would stop posting on Instagram due to the change.

She wasn't alone in the sentiment.

Artist Peter DeLuce, who said he gets most of his sales from Instagram, told The Guardian in 2019 that doing away with "likes" would be a huge detriment to his business.

"Likes are a good metric to prove your art is high quality - that there is a validation of your ideas and content," he said. "Without 'likes,' recognition in the art world returns to who you know or subjective elitist tastes."

Why throw out 'likes' anyway?

Facebook's move to take "likes" out of the equation came about amid a growing concern over the effects of social media on people's mental health.

It appears that Facebook's "have your cake and eat it too" approach could be the result of efforts to minimize social media's negative aspects, while also not alienating those who do value "likes."

"What we heard from people and experts was that not seeing 'like' counts was beneficial for some and annoying to others," according to Facebook's official release.

For the countless social media influencers who rely on "likes" and "follows" for their livelihood in this day and age, "annoying" might be a bit of an understatement.

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