Instagram is Testing Hidden Like Counts

In case you haven’t heard, Instagram has been quietly testing a new feature—or the removal of a feature? Either way, screenshots have been circulating from beta users where the “Like Counts” under Instagram posts has disappeared. Instead of displaying the number of double-tappers, it just shows a mutual contact “and others.” What do you think? Is this the secret to happiness on social media? Or is this about to be Instagram’s biggest backfire?

What’s going on?

Earlier this month, TechCrunch’s Josh Constine published an article announcing the change. Suggesting it may help us feel less “envious, shameful and competitive,” Constine’s piece explains that “a post’s creator can still open the Likers window to see the names of everyone who hearted their post,” but the actual count will be hidden from everyone else.

What does this mean for algorithms?

Likes aren’t going away—just getting hidden. According to the TechCrunch article, “even though Like totals would still impact how the algorithm ranks a post in the feed, if rolled out, the change would refocus Instagram on self-expression instead of being a popularity contest.” As a result, “users might be less likely to delete a photo or video because it didn’t get enough Likes.” A spokesperson for the social media giant explained, “We are testing this because we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.”

What happens for Influencers?

Influencers are a huge part of the Instagram community, and measurement of their engagement is an important metric in their success on the platform. Instagram commented on the issue, saying they “understand that [Like counts are] important for many creators, and while this test is in exploratory stages, we are thinking through ways for them to communicate value to their brand partners.” Whether that’s a screenshot of their Liker list or something else, we’ll have to wait and see.

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