Why it matters: For some Instagram users, it’s important to have an account packed with photos that show hundreds or thousands of Likes. But the social pressure that comes from seeking large Like counts can damage a person’s mental health. That’s partly why the Facebook-owned firm is considering hiding these statistics.
Prolific app researcher Jane Wong, who recently discovered that Facebook could be bringing its Chat tool back to the main application, discovered the unreleased Instagram feature.
While the person who posted the image would know how many Likes it receives, everyone else would only see a couple of names/faces followed by “and others,” rather than exact numbers.
Instagram is testing hiding like count from audiences,— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) April 18, 2019
as stated in the app: "We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get" pic.twitter.com/MN7woHowVN
“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who share a post will see the total number of likes it gets,” said Instagram.
Social media platforms have long been criticized for putting pressure on young users and failing to protect their privacy and safety. It has led to the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office calling for the removal of “nudge” techniques, such as the Like button and Snapchat streaks, which are designed to keep under-18s on the platforms for longer.
Instagram said the removal of visible Likes from posts is still just an internal prototype. “We’re not testing this at the moment, but exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about,” a spokesperson said.
Removing Likes from public view would be a major change for Instagram and could affect the type of content many people post. While it may be beneficial to users’ mental health, not everyone thinks the move would be a good idea.