The Brief: Instagram is testing hiding its like-count feature to users worldwide.
Instagram has been testing hiding the public number of likes a post receives in seven countries. Today, Instagram announced that the test has expanded globally, including to users in the United States. This change in features applies only to select users, and Instagram has not disclosed how they were chosen.
Those that are a part of the test will receive a notification about the test when they open the app. Instead of listing the number of likes on someone else’s post, Instagram displays a message that names one person who liked the post “and others” if it’s been liked by multiple people. The feature being tested still allows users to privately see everyone who has liked one of their own posts.
Starting today, we’re expanding our test of private like counts globally. If you’re in the test, you’ll no longer see the total number of likes and views on photos and videos posted to Feed unless they’re your own. pic.twitter.com/DztSH0xiq2
— Instagram (@instagram) November 14, 2019
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has stated that the reasons for this change are to encourage users to “focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.” Many people have also speculated that removing visible likes could be beneficial for users’ mental health by discouraging them from comparing their popularity to that of others.
A major issue that has come up since the idea of removing likes was proposed is the difficulties that it could pose for influencers. Likes have served as a key metric for the amount of engagement and influence someone has. Likes and ratios of likes to followers have been a way for influencers to demonstrate their value and reach to brands. Some influencers have expressed concern about these changes while others have embraced them.
Kim Kardashian West, for example, said at the New York Times DealBook Conference: “As far as mental health… I think taking the likes away and taking that aspect away from [Instagram] would be really beneficial for people.” In a Twitter thread announcing the global spread of this test, Instagram acknowledged this potential issue writing that “we understand that like counts are important for many creators, and we are actively thinking through ways for creators to communicate value to their partners.”
Online, Instagram users have expressed their opinions on Instagram’s worldwide test of hiding likes with critiques, praise, jokes, and memes.
no offense but taking away likes on instagram is literally the dumbest thing i have ever heard of lol…
— slayyyter (@slayyyter) November 10, 2019
How will I feel validated once instagram likes are gone? How will I know if my friends like what I post? How am I supposed to know if my posts are fire?
— Vinny Mauro (@chenzomauro) November 12, 2019
when instagram finally takes away likes but it doesn’t bother u because u get all ur social media validation from twitter https://t.co/XbBzLhv3GH
— 𝘮𝘪𝘬𝘦 (@mikeyufo) November 14, 2019
cant wait for the instagram likes to LEAVE and my low self-esteem to STAY
— connor (@connorfranta) November 14, 2019
not TMZ chasing me with a camera as i left the gym to ask about Instagram taking away likes………….. pic.twitter.com/dT2yUJ31C9
— tyler oakley (@tyleroakley) November 13, 2019