Instagram announced at its F8 developer conference today that it’ll start testing a new feature later this week that’ll hide users’ public like counts on videos and photos. The test will only be in Canada, and likes will be hidden in the Feed, permalinked pages, and on profiles. Instagram says it wants followers to “focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.” Only the person who owns the account will be able to see how many likes their content received.
We thought a feature like this might be in the works. Code hunter Jane Wong published screenshots of this test earlier this month, and at the time, Instagram said it hadn’t tested the feature. Now, we can see it was prepping for the test to run after F8. A spokesperson at the time said, “We’re not testing this at the moment, but exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about.”
It’s unclear if the company will roll the test out more broadly, but I would love to test this. Although likes can be mood-boosting and encouraging to users, they can also bring them down, especially if content doesn’t perform well. At the same time, likes can incentivize less interesting content and facilitate like-garnering posts, like nudity, food porn, and classic Instagram-bait scenes. Getting rid of likes could fundamentally change the platform.