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Instagram CEO on hiding likes: 'Make it less of a competition'

In an exclusive TODAY interview, Mosseri touched on the company's tests with a small but significant change — hiding the number of "likes" each post gets.
/ Source: NBC News

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said Wednesday that he hopes to change some of the social dynamics that have developed on the image-sharing platform.

In an exclusive interview on Wednesday on TODAY, Mosseri touched on the company's tests with a small but significant change — hiding the number of "likes" each post gets. The number is currently prominently displayed below each post.

"The big idea is to try and make Instagram feel less pressurized, to make it less of a competition," Mosseri said. "So, you can spend a little bit less time worrying about how many likes you have and a little bit more time connecting with people or things that inspire you."

Users would still be able to "like" a post, and account owners would still be able to see how many interactions a post received. But the change would remove the public-facing number, leaving users without the context of whether a post has been particularly popular.

Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion, an acquisition that is now seen as one of the most successful in all of tech. While Instagram is still smaller than Facebook, it is now seen by many analysts as key to Facebook's future thanks to its popularity with younger users as well as its advertising and e-commerce opportunities.

But with that youth audience also comes problems, including bullying. Instagram has taken a variety of steps to try to counteract bullying, including a feature that lets a user restrict how other people can interact with their posts.

Mosseri stressed that his job is to work on problems like bullying as well as other issues that he and the public may not yet be aware of.

"It's my job to worry," Mosseri said. "I'm super worried about this sort of thing. I think if I wasn't worried, I'd be more likely to miss something."

Mosseri also touched on the leaked audio of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in which he said the company was prepared to "go to the mat" if Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., were elected president and tried to break the company up.

"Those comments were in an internal meeting, so he was being very candid," Mosseri said. "But generally I really do agree and stand by the comments, that we don't think it's a good idea to break us up."