Instagram has made plans to stop showing how many people have liked users posts. Posters will still be able to see when someone likes their posts, and clicking through will show them everyone who has done so. Only the poster will be able to see the like count – other users will not.
This is in addition to a recent redesign that makes a user’s follower count much less prominent, according to the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri. Right now the design is being worked on internally but is not yet available to the public.
Why Make the Change?
The change, announced at the most recent F8 Developers Conference, is an effort to make the app a better place to be, by changing the focus from the amount of engagement they’ve earned to just the posts being shared. The Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch, “we’re running a test in Canada that removes the total number of likes on photos and video views in Feed, Permalink pages and Profile. We are testing this because we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.”
It seems to be a response to how anxiety about the damage of social media is negatively affecting mental health and well being. The idea is that by removing some more obvious markers of competition and popularity, social media will become a healthier place to be, with a focus on community. This approach has won the support of many people, such as Kanye West.
Is it Platform Wide?
At this time, the feature is only launched to some users located in Canada. Depending on how successful it is for the test demographic, it’s possible this will roll out to all users. This means no one would be able to see how many likes their posts get.
Why is the test happening in Canada and not in the United States or another area? According to a company spokesperson, “Canadians are highly social and tech savvy, with over 24 million people connecting across our family of apps each month. We wanted to test this with a digitally savvy audience that has a thriving community on Instagram.”
How This Could Affect Influencers
As of now, influencers and other popular people who are paid to post on Facebook use the like metric to help in understanding how popular and engaging a post is. Because these numbers affect how much brands pay them to post, this is a highly important number for influencers.
Instagram said that it was aware that hiding the like numbers could create financial difficulty for influencers and users. Instagram told TechCrunch it was “thinking through ways for them to communicate value to their brand partners” and the idea was still in “exploratory” stages.
Additional Possible Features Coming to Instagram
At the F8 conference, Mosseri announced that Instagram wants to lead the fight against bullying, rather than just working to stop it. He announced multiple new tests of features that aim to make the app less hateful and toxic. These include:
The manage interaction feature will set limits on how certain people interact with you, without having to block them completely. This is ideal for situations where you don’t want someone to be able to comment on your posts but you are fine with them being able to still like the posts. Or, if you are okay with them seeing your posts, but do not want to get direct messages from them.
The Away Mode feature will encourage people to take a break from Instagram during the more intense times of their lives, like moving to a new school, or dealing with other stressful events. They do not need to delete their account, but this feature aims to allow users to get a break from the constant flood of notifications and worrying about how they look.
This feature aims to warn users if they are about to comment something hurtful. The test ensures users aren’t censored, but still addresses bullying before it happens.
If these features are successful at promoting digital well-being, Instagram will likely roll them out to everyone. Though there currently is not a timeline for when this may happen, I will update this post, or blog about it again, as the information becomes available.
It’s refreshing to see Instagram adding well-being features after the founders left the company. They were big fans of reducing envy and promoting authenticity on social media, which was part of the reason they launched Instagram Stories – giving users a platform to share the unpolished parts of life. Before their departure in September, Instagram released the Your Activity dashboard that shows you the average time you spend each day in the app, and an “You’re All Caught Up” warning that lets people know they’ve seen all the recent feed posts and can stop scrolling.
A 2013 study showed that 20% of all envy-causing situations that experiment participants experienced happened on Facebook. The study also determined Facebook causes toxic envy, saying the “intensity of passive following is likely to reduce users’ life satisfaction in the long-run as it triggers upward social comparison and invidious emotions.” Instagram, because of the focus on imagery and a “manicured” life may cause even more envy, so hiding the likes would be helpful in ensuring we don’t judge ourselves as much.
How do you feel about Instagram and your well-being? Do you feel like you’re constantly chasing likes and find yourself disappointed if a particular post doesn’t get the level of engagement you thought it would? Share your experiences in the comments below.