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Decreasing emphasis on follower count on social networks

In our current digital age, a lot of emphasis is placed on influencers and individuals who boast large follower counts on their social media networks. As a follower, we may receive a direct benefit by following certain individuals, whether it is to stay updated on current events or to stay on trend. At the same time however, there are also negative effects of having this level of transparency with social media follower counts. As we mentioned in class, there may be “tiers” in society – similarly, we can group influencers and our own networks into these various tiers based on the simple number of followers. Consequently, there have been adverse effects on people, causing issues with self-esteem and overall mental health. Rather than focusing on content alone, the sheer number of followers have earned greater emphasis in social media.

In response to this issue, social media networks such as Instagram and Twitter have attempted to place less emphasis on the number of followers on account pages. With layout redesigns and minor tweaks to the interface, we are seeing follower counts less emphasized on individual accounts. This is not entirely new either, as sites like Tumblr and Reddit have historically hidden follower counts.

This is an interesting shift in our society and a clear indication of the various networks that come into play, both positively and negatively. On one hand, individual influencers may receive direct benefits by flaunting a high follower count which helps to grow their accounts and their presence in society. These direct benefits sometimes come in the form of monetary perks. From a consumer end, there is evidence of information cascades as we see other people in our networks following certain individuals which then gives us insight on how good an account or influencer is. Consequently, this forms a cascade by influencing individual actions moving forward. At the same time however, there are consequences with these social media networks, as the link to one’s “rank” in the social media realm has detrimental effects on mental health and self esteem. As people are increasingly concerned with their place in society based on surface level factors like follower counts and number of likes, it will be interesting to see how the world of social media will evolve over time.


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