Instagram and Facebook will be testing a feature that allows users to hide ‘like’ counts on their own posts or those by other people. The whole idea is apparently to reduce the social pressure that people can feel on these platforms – part of the companies’ efforts against cyberbullying and other toxic behaviour.
The latest test follows mixed user responses to the like-hiding experiments, Instagram said. “Some people found this beneficial but some still wanted to see like counts so they could track what’s popular,” said a company spokesperson.
People included in the Instagram test – a small slice of its global users – will still be able to privately view their own ‘like’ count.
So we’re testing a new option that lets you decide the experience that’s best for you – whether that’s choosing not to see like counts on anyone else’s posts, turning them off for your own posts, or keeping the original experience.
— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) April 14, 2021
In 2019, Instagram boss Adam Mosseri laid out the rationale behind hiding likes. According to CNBC, he said, “The idea is to try and depressurize Instagram, to make it less of a competition, give people more space to focus on connecting with the people they love and the things that inspire them.”
Instagram and parent company Facebook have made fighting cyberbullying and predatory behaviour a very conspicuous priority, while working to release a version of Instagram for children below the age of 13.
Those plans (to build an Instagram for kids) have already received strong criticism over privacy concerns and their exploitative potential.