Instagram begins hiding likes has potential health benefits

Cameron Rozek, Online Managing Editor & News Editor

On Nov. 14, Instagram announced plans to hide the number of likes on posts from followers.

The company intends on allowing the user to retain the ability to view the amount of likes on their own posts.

Instagram began testing this feature in select countries back in July of 2019. Since then, they have announced plans to start giving the feature to a small amount of United States users, and eventually everyone. 

The change was prompted because of a shift in the culture of the social platform. The original purpose of the platform was to connect people through photography.

More recently, however, Instagram has transformed into a social  experience where people share their lives through photos, rather than simply sharing photographical artworks. 

For some, the shift in purpose has increased the competitiveness of Instagram users. It is common practice for users to remove a post if it does not get enough attention and repost it later when more people are online, or remove a months old post that does not have enough likes.

“[Private like counts are] about young people. The idea is to try to depressurize Instagram,” head of Instragram Adam Mosseri said in a public interview with Wired. “Give it less competition.”

Instagram hopes that by making like counts private, users will feel less of a need to have a certain outward-facing image.

“I think [private likes] is a good change,” freshman Caitlyn Vos said. “People won’t feel sad or disappointed if their post doesn’t get enough likes.”

Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, is also testing out private likes. However, it is not certain that both platforms will have the same model. 

“[Instagram] is more geared towards younger people,” Mosseri said. “It’s less so with Facebook.” 

Although changes are being made to make the platform more welcoming, Instagram revealed in a post last year that priority in a user’s feed is partially based on how many likes a post gets in a limited amount of time.

For some, the changes are not in their best interest. 

“Celebrities do online brand promotions [on Instagram] and they need to see the likes to be visible to be effective,” freshman Skylar Russo said.

Although not perfect, Instagram is continuing to develop ways for users to feel more secure on their platform. 

“Our goal is to build tools for the targets of bullying to be able to stand up for themselves,” Mosseri said.

Instagram users can expect to stop seeing likes on others’ posts in the next few months as all U.S. users are given the feature. 

“While the feedback from early testing has been positive, this is a fundamental change to Instagram, and so we’re continuing our test to learn more from our global community,” a spokesperson from Instagram said.