Instagram Is Testing Out Hiding ‘Likes’ on Posts

November 12, 2019

Social media sites want to sway users from judging posts based on the number of likes. Instagram is the latest to announce its trial run in hiding the “likes” counter underneath a posted photo or video on some U.S. posts this week.

“Right now, we’re testing making like counts private so you’ll be able to see how many people liked a given photo of yours or a video of yours, but no one else will,” Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said in comments during Wired25, a tech symposium late last week.

Mosseri said the move is an attempt to “depressurize” Instagram and make it less of a competition. Instead, “[we want to] give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love, things that inspire them,” he noted.

Instagram’s U.S. pilot comes after the company tested hiding likes in several international markets, like Japan, Canada, Ireland, and Australia.

In September, Facebook, which is the parent company of Instagram, experimented with removing “like” counts on some posts. Twitter officials over the past year have also hinted at wanting to remove public like counts from tweets. YouTube has hid some engagement metrics from its site too, such as public-facing subscriber counts.

Critics say the move to remove likes on social media sites can impact marketing strategies for businesses that use “likes” counters to attract advertisers and customers. Also, they say hiding the counts makes it more difficult to determine whose follower count is actually legitimate.