Instagram is experimenting with a new change to the popular photo-sharing app. In seven countries now, users won’t be able to view how many likes a post receives.
Why is Instagram hiding likes? There’s been a lot of concern in recent years about the way social media platforms can contribute to low self-esteem, especially in young people. Instagram, and apps like it, provide a breeding ground for comparison, often resulting in feelings of inadequacy. One outcome: users may feel judged by the number of ‘likes’ their posts earn and alter their social media persona accordingly.
Studies have shown that social media has a significant effect on mental health. The number of likes a post gets is a generally accepted measure of success or popularity on Instagram. Many users now depend on the app for a self-esteem boost. It’s one of the qualities that makes social media addictive — people feel better about themselves when they receive a significant online response to their content.
So how will it work? Right now, Instagram users can see likes by mutual friends, followed by a number. With the new feature, users will see the mutual friend’s username, but only “and others” will be listed after it. Users can still see who liked the post if they click “and others,” but will not be able to find a running total — unless they count the usernames one by one.
A test-run was first launched in Canada in May. Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri announced the new feature in an Instagram post, of course. He said the aim is to help people “worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting” and spend more time using the app to “connect with the people that they care about.”
Now Instagram is expanding the trial to Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and Brazil. Australian Instagram policy director Mia Garlick told BBC News: “We hope this test will remove the pressure… so you can focus on sharing the things you love… and telling [your] story.”
This new trial, along with a recently released anti-bullying feature, is a clear attempt to tackle some of the damage social media apps have done. Will this help reverse Instagram’s mental health effects? We’ll have to wait and see.