Instagram has been experimenting with hiding like counts for almost two years. However, the company has said little publicly about what it plans to do with the feature or what it has learned from the long-term test. Now the company informs about the effort and carries out a new optimization of the experiment.
With the change, like previous iterations, only being made available to a small subset of Instagram users, the app allows users to choose which likes to hide. Now they have the option to hide the number of likes on their own posts (so their followers don’t see them) or hide the number of likes on posts from everyone else (which removes the number of likes from the feed altogether). Users also have the option to have likes displayed normally. This option could be a reaction to widespread criticism if Instagram briefly and “unintentionally” activated the function for many more people in the past month.
Instagram hasn’t indicated whether to make hiding more permanent, although its executives have repeatedly spoken favorably of efforts to make the app “pressure free”, especially for younger users. The latest update comes at a time when Instagram is also exploring a new version of its app for children under the age of 13. While this project is still in its early stages, some lawmakers have already urged the company to remove features like “Like” because they say it is addicting the app.
Separately, Facebook will also be testing a version of this experiment and plans to bring a “similar experience” to its main platform. The social network has tried to hide likes in Australia but has not yet rolled out it on a large scale. In a statement, a spokesman said the company will “learn from this new little test and have more to share soon”.