You Like Me, You Really Like Me
Instagram has made a lot of tweaks to its user experience lately, like removing the following tab (simultaneously making it harder to stalk people and easier for us to like really embarrassing things) and changing the “explore” experience.
But now it’s doing something that’s got opinions very split, even here at BiTE HQ: Instagram, like it’s parent Facebook, has begun hiding like counts.
Wait what? But…but how will we get the sweet, sweet validation of a stranger’s approval without a like count? We need the happy brain chemicals! WE NEED THEM!
And that’s sort of the point.
“The idea is to try to depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, and give people more space to focus on connecting with the people they love and things that inspire them.” The intention is to “reduce anxiety” and “reduce social comparison,” Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri explained.
Tough love, y’all.
It’s no surprise that Instagram is addressing the perfectly posed, living-its-best-life elephant in the room. Insta has been called the worst social media platform to engage with if you value your mental health and sense of self worth.
Manufactured moments that give the impression of an ideal life can cause real harm if you aren’t constantly telling yourself they’re fake. Add to that the ides that like counts equal popularity equals self-worth…it’s positively dystopian.
So we get why they’re trying to minimize the damage while maximizing the profits.
There’s another reason for the shift. Instagram is trying to lower people’s trepidation about sharing, because they don’t want the platform to become another YouTube, where only “professionals” make ultra-slick content and everyone else passively watches while their self-esteem tanks. By not having to care about a low-like post making you look bad, you’re free to post whatever, whenever. Judgy public be damned.
That’s better for you and Instagram.
But what of the all-important “influencers,” who are arguably more important to the app than the app is to them (and who are understandably horrified at this new change)? Without like counts, influencers lose their influence and their brand partnerships, and their income.
Perhaps Instagram will roll out a paid feature that allows its cash-cows to view these metrics. And perhaps, all talk of mental health aside, that is the real point.
There. Feel better now?
With Apple leagues ahead of the competition in medical studies, Google has found itself struggling to catch up. And, we suppose inspired by the old adage that one should go big or go home, Google went big.
And then? Well…
Project Nightingale began as a plan to analyze patient data and give health care providers new insights and suggestions for patient care. Working in concert with Ascension, one of the country’s largest, non-profit and Catholic health systems, they began to collect and analyze the data of a staggering 50 million patients.
There’s only one problem: Not a single one of those patients gave their consent.
Last week a whistleblower approached the Guardian, and expressed anger that patients were being kept in the dark about the deal.
“According to the whistleblower, the security fears raised at that meeting, including concerns that the transfer may be in breach of federal HIPAA rules on data privacy, have so far gone unanswered by Google.”
Less than 48 hours later, federal investigators announced an inquiry. Both Google and Ascension claim they’re HIPAA compliant, but as much as we want to give them the benefit of the doubt (we don’t, really) that seems unlikely to say the least.
It absolutely goes without saying that when you’re dealing with medical data, patient consent is paramount, matched in importance only by data security. It’s almost beyond comprehension that Google would be this stupid, but this isn’t the first or even the second time Google has played fast and loose with user privacy.
And yet people keep going back, and will, as long as the convenience of Google products and lack of competition in the market outweigh increasingly valid concerns over consumer privacy.