Instagram likes will start disappearing in the US next week. The social media platform is running a trial in an attempt to create safer online spaces and help with users’ mental health.
In an attempt to stamp down on competitive pressure on the platform, Instagram will hide likes for “some” users in the United States starting next week. At the WIRED25 Summit in San Francisco, Instagram’s CEO, Adam Mosseri, announced plans to test hiding “likes” on a limited group of accounts.
With the changes, users will still be able to see who likes their photos and videos — but their followers won’t know the count. Hiding “likes” from public view has already been tested in seven countries, including Brazil, Japan, and Canada.
“It’s about young people. The idea is to try and depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love and things that inspire them,” Mosseri said at WIRED25.
WATCH: Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri announces that the platform will start hiding likes for US audiences starting next week. It’s the latest step in Instagram’s quest to become the safest place on the internet. https://t.co/BGkMG57rdk #WIRED25 pic.twitter.com/WNTyAPVhaD
— WIRED (@WIRED) November 9, 2019
Studies have found Instagram to already be a toxic online environment, leading to anxiety, depression, bullying, and poorly impacting sleep and body image among young users — and some argue that “likes” could just add to the pressures of building an online persona and accumulating social media clout. Even hall of fame ‘grammers, such as Kim Kardashian West, have said that hiding “likes” could be beneficial to users’ mental health.
Reactions to these trials were mixed. While there was a worry that the removal of public engagement metrics would be damaging for Instagram professionals, such as influencers – whose numbers are an important signal to potential customers or clients – others welcomed the change.
Will the US trial of removing likes work for Instagram? On the one hand, it might help people stop measuring their self worth against celebrities and dissuade divisive content; on the other, creators might suffer and, as some have pointed out, measuring an account’s legitimacy could become more difficult.