Popular photo-sharing platform Instagram has recently begun to test out a new feature that would see the app hiding the number of likes a users’ photos achieves from being visible to other users.
The idea behind this experiment is to see what effect it would have on its users, with the hope that it will have a positive impact and relieve some of the stress that can be caused by the pressures of social media.
For a long time, users have become obsessed with one metric – how many likes a post has received. Especially among the younger generations, the number of likes the user can attract usually signifies popularity. Some users have even been known to remove posts from their profiles because they didn’t generate as many likes as they hoped for within a certain timeframe.
The Instagram test is taking place in Canada, and according to the head of the app, Adam Mosseri, the user will still be able to keep track of who is liking their posts by opening the Likers window, where the lists of everyone who liked it will be displayed, but the number will remain hidden. Furthermore, the follower counter will also become less prominent at the top of the user’s profile.
Although the likes would still be a significant part of how Instagram’s algorithms rank posts within the news feed, should this test be deemed successful and rolled out permanently, the change would enable the platform to refocus on self-expression instead of becoming a popularity contest between users.
A spokesperson from Instagram stated that the test will remove the total number of likes that appear on photos and videos in the feed, and within profiles, adding that the company wants users to focus on what is being shared. The announcement came at the Facebook F8 Conference alongside other new product debuts.
One concern about the possible introduction of this feature is the effect on influencers. This group of users often get discovered thanks to paid promotion and have the success of their content measured by the number of likes they accrue. Instagram said that it understands the importance of these metrics to this group and is still thinking of ways for them to communicate value with their brand partners.
The move has been generally welcomed, with many believing this is one step towards a healthier, more positive social media that will not have a negative impact on users’ mental health. The hope is that if the limelight is taken away from the number of likes someone has on a post, they are free to enjoy social media without any pressure and can use it without having to hide who they are, or use Finsta accounts (secondary accounts).
If Instagram’s bold move is successful, could other social media sites soon follow suit?