Would you enjoy Instagram more if it didn't show everyone how few 'likes' your last post received?
That's exactly what Instagram is trying to learn, by testing a design change that would no longer show the total number of “likes” on users' posts. This new feature, if that's what you'd call it, is slowly rolling out. Here's what you need to know about it, and when it's coming to your country.
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Why is Instagram hiding 'likes'?
A few months ago, at the Facebook F8 conference, Facebook-owned Instagram revealed it was starting a test in Canada that removes the total number of likes on photos and video views in Instagram's news feed, permalink pages, and profiles. “We are testing this because we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get," it said at the time.
Also on stage at F8, Facebook discussed at length how Instagram wants to do better at curbing harassment. It was implied that this test, as well as several other new features, would hopefully go a long way at making Instagram less toxic for many users who've been bullied on the platform.
How does the 'likes' removal test work?
Users in certain countries will first notice an alert atop their feed that warns of “a change to how you see likes". If you get this alert, you will still see your own likes (by tapping on the list of people who've liked it), but your friends will not be able to see how many likes your post has received. To be clear, Instagram will not only hiding the total number of likes but also video views for all posts.
Which countries are Instagram hiding 'likes'?
The test began in Canada and has since expanded to Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand. When asked why it kicked off the test in Canada, Instagram said: “Canadians are highly social and tech-savvy, with over 24 million people connecting across our family of apps each month. We wanted to test this with a digitally savvy audience that has a thriving community on Instagram."
We’re currently running a test that hides the total number of likes and video views for some people in the following countries:— Instagram (@instagram) July 17, 2019
New Zealand pic.twitter.com/2OdzpIUBka
When will the test come to the US and UK?
The company hasn’t said when the test will expand to the US and UK. It also hasn't said anything about how the tests are going so far.
How will this affect influencers?
Influencers on social media platforms, including Instagram, use the number of likes on their posts to prove their value to partners and followers. This metric not only helps them get discovered but also receive paid promotions in the form of sponsored content. Without the ability to publicly show how popular a post is, sponsored or not, users may find it more challenging to market themselves.
In a statement to the media, Instagram acknowledged the 'likes' count is important for many influencers and creators, but it also said this is a test in the "exploratory stages", and that it is "thinking through ways for [users] to communicate value to their brand partners".
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