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Instagram is removing ‘Likes’ from posts for some U.S. users this week

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Doing it for the ‘Gram is about to change. Not entirely, but at least, when you do it, it won’t be to show off how many likes you can garner with your new designer shoes or the table full of drinks on a night out with friends.

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram announced at WIRED25 that the social media network will start hiding post likes in the US on some users posts this week. The U.S. is one of Instagram’s largest markets with more than 106 million users, according to data analyst EMarketer.

Although, Instagram has previously tested this feature in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand.

“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
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What will happen is that users will still be able to see likes on their own posts but they won’t appear publicly and this has caused mixed reactions from celebrities and social media influencers.

Instagram isn’t the only platform thinking along these lines. Hiding engagement metrics — likes, retweets, view counts — has been tested by Facebook (which owns Instagram), YouTube, and Twitter. “It’s about young people,” Mosseri said during the Wired panel.

“The idea is to try to ‘depressurize’ Instagram, make it less of a competition and give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love, things that inspire them.”

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Instagram’s follower counts and likes have made it one of the top online platforms to compare one’s popularity with others, especially among teens and young adults.

The Facebook-owned company has tried for years to combat the competitive trend by promoting good role models via posts on its @instagram account, hoping to reflect the parts of the app that are about creativity and art as opposed to self-promotion. Yet, aiming for the metrics was irresistible for its users, contributing to mental health issues and other ills, like users paying for fake likes and followers from bots.

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Looking at research that suggests visible metric counts reward outrage and creates a radicalized environment, many people have welcomed the idea of killing likes. While others have complained that, without engagement figures, it could become more difficult to determine which accounts have legitimate followers.

Some are also lamenting on the move for businesses, which will have a more difficult time attracting advertisers or customers without those numbers publicly available.

Surprisingly, even some of the app’s most prolific celebrities have said that the service without likes may be healthier for its users.

“It would be really beneficial,” said Kim Kardashian, speaking at the New York Times DealBook conference on Wednesday. Kardashian, who has 151 million Instagram followers and regularly receives more than 1 million likes on her posts, said the Instagram team has been discussing the changes with select users to get feedback, “and that makes me happy.”

In recent years, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have been at the centre of the debate around issues like smartphone addiction and online health. As a result, product health has become a priority at the social-media companies, which are trying to balance the need to drive user growth and engagement with the outside perception that they are contributing to problems such as online bullying.

In attempts to promote online health, Instagram, for example, has also announced a feature where users can limit the amount of time they spend on the app in a given day, plus it removed the Instagram Activities feed. However, Apple Inc. built a similar “time spent” feature into its iPhone software, and Google offers tools like this for Android phones. Twitter has a beta version of its main product that hides engagement metrics, including likes and retweets, from user replies and interactions.

It’s unclear how widespread the trial of the removal of likes will be, but question is, will you still post on Instagram if the fully remove likes? Do let us know.

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Feritter Owich
Feritter Owich
I am the mobile editor here. I cover apps, smartphones and anything else related to consumer electronics. Reach me at [email protected]

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