Instagram has considered hiding the like count on photos, so audiences can’t see how many people have liked an individual post. An unreleased feature that would publicly hide like counts was spotted today by code hunter Jane Wong, who says the test states that Instagram wants “your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get.” Only the person who posted a photo will be able to see the number of likes it’s received.
Instagram says that it has not tested the feature. In a statement to The Verge, an Instagram spokesperson said: “We’re not testing this at the moment, but exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about.”
Details of the test come just days after the Independent indicated that the British Information Commissioner’s Office has recommended that social platforms, like Instagram and Snapchat, offer the option to turn off features like likes and “streaks” that encourage users to keep posting. The agency wants to ban these features in order to protect the safety and privacy of the platforms’ youngest users.
This would be a massive change to how the platform functions. Likes, while absolutely demoralizing at times, encourage people to post and give them incentive to post content that performs. It also can incentivize the posting of less authentic content, however, like gorgeous landscapes, nudity, or thirst trap photos that might garner likes, but aren’t the most interesting or thoughtful.