Instagram is currently testing a new feature that would hide “Like” counts on your page. Rumors have spread around for a while since a tester leaked screenshots of the news update, but it was officially announced at the Facebook F8 Developers Conference and will be rolled out in Canada as early as next week.
A few weeks ago, screenshots were acquired by Jane Manchun Wong, who uncovered the app was currently testing a prototype of the feature.
“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get,” Instagram says in one of the screenshots from Wong. “During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets.”
With the test, Instagram plans to remove the total number of likes from photos and videos on that show up on the main feed, profiles and permalink pages. Only the account user will be able to see the number of likes a post receives. It will show a couple profile photos next to a call out of a few names who have liked the photo, as it does now, but will no longer show the exact count of people who liked the post.
Instagram says the reason for this update test is to have users concentrate on their posts and interacting with the app rather than likes. Many users will delete photos that do not get “enough” likes. Many studies have been conducted on the culture surrounding social media and the unhealthy obsession with “likes” and comparison to others online. A recent report from UK’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Young Health Movement looked at the impact of different social media platforms on mental health. While there were some positives about accessing health information, the opportunity for self-expression and a feeling of community, the negative factors were heavy. Things like anxiety, depression, loneliness, sleep quality and negative impact on body image were all reported.
The hope is by getting rid of the liking part of the app it could reduce some of these negative affects about getting enough likes on a post and eliminate the competition to have the most “likable post.” This could increase authenticity across posting and could be a benefit for many.
While a benefit for many, some influencers have expressed concern about their feed rankings in the algorithm and their source of income. There are currently no plans to hide follower counts on profiles, which are the main source for sponsorships for influencers. Developers will most likely need to update the algorithm to reflect the inability to publically see likes and find a new way to curate content feeds based on the popularity of a post, such as engagement through comments.
There are other updates that were found in Wong’s test such as chat thread stickers for Direct messages, augmented reality filters for Direct Video calls, simultaneous co-watching of recommended videos through Direct, karaoke-style lyrics that appear synced to soundtracks in Stories, emoji reactions to feed posts and a shopping bag for commerce.
While it is starting in Canada, it is not certain if they will begin to test in other places. Like many tests, they will have to see an increase in positive interactions and user engagement to expand. If it is successful on Instagram, it could spread to other platforms like Facebook in the hope to create a healthier social media environment for all.
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