Instagram is facing backlash after a report suspected them of withholding likes. With all of us hopelessly addicted to the dopamine kick it gives us, this is a serious allegation.
Currently knocking on the heavily filtered walls of Instagram HQ is the suspicion that they might be drip-feeding the likes on your posts to forever keep you disappointed, and in turn, keep you using the app in order to increase the teensy tiny hearts of approval on your images.
Thanks @mikeyk — could you clarify by what you mean by “this”? Meaning that Instagram will always update the # of likes instantaneously? How are notifications handled? These often seem bundled on my app. What’s the underlying algorithm/trigger points?
— Andy Coravos (@AndreaCoravos) January 14, 2018
this = strategically withhold likes. replication lag/etc may mean things aren’t instantaneous but not intentionally so. and notifications we try and strike a balance of being timely + not over-sending notifs. UI shows our latest/best count once you’re in the app
— Mike Krieger (@mikeyk) January 14, 2018
The above response was in response to Matt Mayberry of California startup Dopamine labs, who told the newspaper The Globe and Mail that everyone in the industry knows that Instagram drip-feeds likes to certain users who don’t use the photo-sharing app often enough. The strategy, he said, was that the user will be disappointed with the number of likes they received on a particular post, and keep checking back to see if they’ve got more. “They’re tying into your greatest insecurities,” Mayberry said.
Which may well true, as we suspect the overlords at Instagram might just be treating us like mere addicts. And they might be correct in doing so. You see, the chemical kick of Insta-approval has been proved in numerous studies, with NYU professor Adam Atler articulating it best in his book, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. Atler’s main theory circles around the fact that Instagram is just another factory producing everyone’s favourite mind candy, dopamine.
Atler figures that the effect is exactly the same kick as when you take a drug, a drink or light up a dart, stating: “…when someone likes an Instagram post, or any content that you share, it’s a little bit like taking a drug. As far as your brain is concerned, it’s a very similar experience. Now the reason why is because it’s not guaranteed that you’re going to get likes on your posts. And it’s the unpredictability of that process that makes it so addictive. If you knew that every time you posted something you’d get 100 likes, it would become boring really fast.”
Atler points the finger of blame at Instagram, because it prides itself on the aesthetic side of life.
“One of the problems with Instagram is that everyone presents the very best versions of their lives. So you can curate Instagram, you can take 100,000 shots if you want to before you actually share anything. What that means is, every time you look at someone’s feed, you’re getting only the very best aspects of their lives, which makes you feel like your life, in comparison with all its messiness, probably isn’t as good. Seeing the best version of everyone else’s life makes you feel deprived.”
Therefore, you add unreality to your reality, and heavily filter your breakfasts, and the whole brutal process of feeding that feeling spools in perpetuity. So, are Instagram actually engaging in that behaviour? Well, they say no, and we should give them the benefit of the doubt, but solely focusing on their actions, they’re merely just doing what all purveyors of thrills do, and control the market.
Maybe, we should just all admit we have a problem.
Hi, my name is TBS Newsbot, and I’m just doing it for the ‘gram.