Instagram just took its divisive ‘hidden likes’ experiment global

Instagram just took its divisive ‘hidden likes’ experiment global

Instagram today announced it’s expanding its test of hidden likes to users around the world. This means that a significantly higher number of people will be logging into Instagram today and seeing their friends’ posts sans numbers.

The test was run in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand earlier this year. Now it’s been expanded to the rest of the world. So if, all of a sudden, you can’t see the number of likes on another user’s post, it’s because you’ve been included in this test. The layout is otherwise unchanged.

The social media platform’s pivot away from the instant gratification of likes and views is an interesting experiment — how much do our fellow users respond to the number below our pictures more so than to the pictures themselves? Likes are intended to be a sign of approval from one user to another, not a reactive desire to join a crowd. Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said during an interview at Wired25 that this was intended to make Instagram less of a cutthroat place: “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.”

Still, this won’t abate the sense of validation that comes with the likes on your own posts — and it’d be well nigh impossible for Instagram to ever eliminate that. I’d be curious to see if any popular influencers notice a significant change in their like counts one way or another. Instagram has also stated it’s trying to find other ways for content creators to keep their sponsorships that can sometimes be dependent on like counts.

Some users aren’t exactly supportive of the idea: Nicki Minaj has already said she won’t post to Instagram because they’re “removing the likes” and said in a now-deleted tweetstorm that Instagram like counts help empower independent artists. Cardi B has also weighed in, saying comment likes are more harmful than likes themselves, as they allow people to reward harmful backchat to otherwise positive posts.

Still, others have come out in support of the decision. Several influencers told Buzzfeed the potential improvement to users’ mental health is most important. Kim Kardashian West, someone who’s consistently been one of Instagram’s top ten most-followed users, has said the change could be “beneficial.” And when TNW ran its own poll, the majority of answers said hiding likes was a good thing.

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