Instagram might be changing up one of the most fundamental parts of its service: likes.
New screenshots suggest the company is testing a way to hide like counts in Instagram posts. Images uncovered by researcher Jane Manchun Wong reveal Instagram feed posts that no longer show exact like counts. Instead, you see that a post was liked by a few named handles “and others.”
“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get,” Instagram says in an in-app message explaining the change. “During this test, only the person who shared a post will see the total number of likes it gets.”
Instagram is testing hiding like count from audiences,
as stated in the app: “We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get”
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane)
In a statement, an Instagram spokesperson said the feature is not being tested “at the moment,” but that “exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about.”
Instagram testing changes to like counts would fit with other changes the company has made. Last year, it introduced a tool to help you keep track of how much time you spend in the app. And Instagram, which has been criticized for its effect on mental health, has added anti-bullying features.
Like counts may not seem as problematic as bullying, but Instagram critics have pointed to it as one aspect that contributes to the service’s potential negative effects. Like counts can be a source of social pressure, particularly for younger users. De-emphasizing likes could potentially make Instagram a little healthier.
Whether or not this experiment will ever be more than just one of the company’s many tests is unclear. Facebook and Instagram are constantly testing new features — many of which never launch. But, at the very least, it shows they are searching for ways to address some of their harsher critics.