Would the internet be a better place if we all paid a little less attention to fake internet points? Instagram is still trying to figure it out.
Just a few months back, Instagram started testing a design tweak that would no longer show the total number of “likes” other users’ posts had received. You could still see everyone that liked your photos and videos — but anyone else’s stuff? Don’t worry about it.
While the company hasn’t said much about how the tests are going so far, it seems they’re going well enough to expand them. Initially rolled out in just Canada, it’ll roll out to users in six more countries starting today:
- New Zealand
Curiously, some users in Canada (the first country where hidden likes were tested) reported yesterday that likes had returned to their feed. Instagram confirmed to us that the testing in Canada is still ongoing. Meanwhile, likes seem to be gone again in Canada as of this afternoon.
We wrote about Instagram’s like-hiding experiments a few weeks prior to the public tests, after the pending rollout was discovered by reverse-engineering extraordinaire Jane Manchun Wong.
So why hide likes? Instagram says it’s “because [they] want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.”
In other words: when likes are public, people care too much about them. People view it as a metric of success — teasing those who get too few, or buying likes to try to gain admiration. If a post doesn’t get enough likes, people delete them to make it seem like all of their photos are hits. In theory, hiding likes from the feed but making them visible to the creator lets people get some sense of what’s working, without having to worry so much about whatever anyone else is taking away from the like count on any given photo.
Here’s what Instagram looks like with the design tweak. Note the banner up top giving the user a heads up of the change, and that the like bar just says “Liked by username and others” instead of any specific number of users: