Instagram Is Currently Testing Hiding The Number Of Likes
Instagram sparks controversy as they test hiding like counts for users worldwide
After much speculation and criticism over social media’s impact on mental health, Instagram started testing what would be the biggest change to the app yet: hiding the total number of “likes” on each post.
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
In 2016, Instagram launched a new feature allowing users to disable or limit comments on their posts. In that vein, Kanye West took to Twitter last year, calling on social media platforms for the option to hide follower and like counts as well. Instagram took note and began exploring the idea. Having been testing it out in several countries since July, the app began rolling out the game-changing feature to users worldwide this week.
Under each post, expect to now see “Liked by @user and others,” with the “@user” in this case no longer necessarily being someone you’re following. You can still click to see a list of who liked the post, but you would only know how many people did if you manually counted. As of now, the feature only allows you to see the total number of likes on your posts.
This change comes as part of the Facebook-owned app’s efforts to make Instagram a safer space. At the WIRED25 summit last week, while announcing the launch of the test feature in the U.S., Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri explained that the decision was made with young people in mind. “The idea is to try and depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love, things that inspire them.”
No doubt that the photo-sharing app is a large contributor to the increasing anxiety experienced by today’s youth. In a 2017 study conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK, roughly 1,500 people aged 14 to 24 were surveyed on the impact of different social media platforms on their mental health and wellbeing. The platform with the most negative impact? Instagram. This comes as no surprise, given that Instagram is the most curated social media platform. Inundated with envy-inducing posts, users are pressured to keep up with impossible standards and convey their best selves, using likes and followers as measures of validation. Hiding these metrics diminishes that competitiveness, but what about those whose vocations depend on said numbers?
I’m not posting on IG after this week cuz they removing the likes. Hmmmm what should I get into now? Think of all the time I’ll have with my new life— Mrs. Petty (@NICKIMINAJ) November 9, 2019
The decision has garnered a mixed reception. Despite the app being a large contributor to her success, with more that 151 million followers and million-dollar offers for sponsored posts, Kim Kardashian West echoed her husband’s sentiments at the New York Times DealBook Conference last week. “As far as mental health, I mean it’s something that taking the likes away and taking that aspect away from it would be really beneficial for people,” the reality star stated. On the other hand, Nicki Minaj threatened to boycott the app, while rival rapper Cardi B expressed her thoughts and argued that comments are more problematic in an IGTV post.
While the app has served as an opportune platform for celebrities to interact directly with their fans, the change will have the most negative impact on the new kind of celebrity—influencers. Influencers have become synonymous with Instagram, and thanks to the app, influencer marketing has become a very real vocation for many. Instagram has become one of the leading advertising platforms over recent years, with influencers using their engagement metrics to broker deals with businesses and build brands. However, since many consumers look to the numbers for legitimacy, this would level the playing field for everyone, making it difficult for personalities and small businesses to be discovered and go viral.
Nevertheless, the company is still in the testing phase of this new feature, so like counts aren’t gone forever… yet. But now the question is, how will we know for sure that a viral egg really holds the current record for the most liked photo on Instagram?