Instagram announced some time ago that it was thinking about hiding like counts on Instagram posts. The company also said that it will begin testing the new feature in seven different countries, including the United States.
Well, it seems the photo-sharing app is beginning tests for US users. In an announcement made by CEO Adam Mosseri, Instagram is hiding the like counter for several users as part of the test. But there’s a little tweak from what we expected.
Initially, the inspiration behind hiding the likes counter was to reduce self-judgment. The company wanted to make sure people didn’t feel bad if their post didn’t get as many likes as they hoped for. But during this new test, you will still be able to see how many people like your posts.
However, other people, including your followers will not. The test has also rolled out in six other countries. It started in Canada and has since rolled out in the United States, Italy, Brazil, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia.
Hiding the likes counter may have adverse effects on Instagram advertising revenue. It’s a hugely unpopular decision among influencers and content creators on the platform. But the social media company says that it’s not thinking about that right now.
According to CEO Adam Mosseri, the company is ready to “make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s wellbeing and health.” Mosseri also added that they are following the tests very carefully. The aim is to see how the new feature affects how people feel about the platform and how they use it.
Ultimately, Instagram says that it wants to take the pressure away from the platform, making it easier for people to pursue more meaningful connections and reduce social comparisons. But even then, Instagram cannot afford to ignore its influencers.
Content creators have already expressed concern that the new feature may affect engagement. There’s a risk that revenue generated by content creators may decline with declining engagement. This may then lead to a drop in average daily users as well.
According to a study by HypeAuditor, in countries where the hide likes feature is testing, the number of likes received on posts by social media personalities with between 5,000 to 20,000 followers dropped by between 3% and 15%.
It's alarmingly clear, at least based on this study, that likes are important in driving up user engagement. The theoretical argument explaining this decline is simple. As part of normal human behavior, people are more likely to like a post if they find thousands of other people have liked it as well.
Besides, posts that get a higher number of likes may attract the attention of users, leading to increased user engagement in the long run. It’s also not easy to measure or even understand how hiding the like counter helps improve the mental health of users.
But despite this, Instagram still maintains that this is the right thing to do. But we will see if they change their opinion after the tests are completed.