It’s 2018 and entire industries are powered by Instagram, but some people still can’t get it through their heads that “likes” on the app are public—ergo, whenever they double-tap a ‘gram, they’re essentially broadcasting their approval of that post for anyone to see. The latest party to be exposed and shamed for its bad likes is part of the cohort of liberals who follow Ivanka Trump on Instagram: As an article in Politico reports, even some of the strongest critics of the first daughter’s role in her father’s presidential administration have continued smashing the like button on her posts from time to time.
Among those highlighted by Politico are YouTuber Casey Neistat, hedge funder Marc Lasry, DryBar founder Alli Webb, and media mogul David Geffen.* “There is a cocktail party game where everyone opens Ivanka’s pictures to see who in their contact list liked a photo,” one socialite told the publication. Fun!
Ivanka’s Instagram is part of the toolbox she uses to sell herself as a sensible voice of reason in the Trump administration as well as a wife, mother, and career woman, which is to say her profile is hardly a meaningless or unproductive point of focus. Some of the well-known people who Ivanka herself follows on the app have realized that and even targeted political messages at her, asking for her to take specific actions surrounding the family-separation crisis and the DREAM Act. So it’s especially strange that some of Ivanka’s followers have continued blithely liking her posts.
It’s true that a like does not signal 100 percent unconditional approval of the person who receives it. Likes can mean different things—remember when Rob Kardashian shared explicit pictures of Blac Chyna without her consent on Instagram? She liked one of them, but clearly, the meaning of that action was more complicated than a typical like. Still, it’s probably fair to say that the people who are liking Ivanka’s posts about her children’s birthdays and her family life intend their likes as messages of goodwill—why else would someone who served in Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration like a picture of Ivanka throwing a football but to send some virtual good vibes? That’s what’s really notable here: that some people continue to think fondly of someone who’s proved time and again exactly how on board she is with her father’s agenda. Depriving Ivanka of all those tiny hits of dopamine might be a small thing, but if she couldn’t do anything when children were separated from their families, a few fewer social-media heart seems like a reasonable trade-off.
Ivanka’s stealth likes recall the episode earlier this year when a contestant on The Bachelorette, who went on to win the show, was caught liking xenophobic and transphobic content on Instagram: Try as he might to play it off as a meaningless, mindless accident, something that didn’t count because it happened in the unreal playground that is Instagram, we all know how liking works, and it’s likely that he wouldn’t have hit that button if he didn’t, at least partly, share those views—or at least didn’t feel especially put off by them. Good to know, David Geffen and Alli Webb.
Correction, Sept. 13, 2018: This post originally misspelled Alli Webb’s first name.