Is Instagram doing away with showing others how many people liked your posts?
The company announced on Tuesday that it will soon be running a test in Canada that removes likes on photos as well as the count on video views in Feed, Permalink pages and Profile.
"We are testing this because we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get,'' a screenshot of a test post provided by Instagram reads. "During this test, only you will be able to see the total number of likes on your posts."
A sample post of the new format provided by Instagram shows that the post was liked by user "gregmar" and "others" without putting a number before "others" to publicly indicate how many people liked it.
The change had been rumored to be in the works when it was discovered on April 19 by web developer Jane Manchun Wong, who reverse engineers popular apps and posts her findings on Twitter.
She wrote that she had discovered Instagram running a test in which likes would not appear to anyone else except the user who created the post.
"Instagram isn't removing the Like feature itself,'' Wong wrote on Twitter. "They are just experimenting with not showing the like count to everyone else. Others can still like your post. They just can't see the total number of likes."
Instagram, which has more than a billion users, had previously confirmed to TechCrunch that it had created an internal prototype of the new format but said it had not released it to the public in any type of test.
"We’re not testing this at the moment, but exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about,'' a spokesperson told TechCrunch two weeks ago.
The potential change to only show likes to users could conceivably reduce the anxiety, envy and low self-esteem that comes with obsessing over the amount of likes a post receives. Many Instagram users voiced this opinion upon hearing news of the possible feature.
It also could prompt people to be more authentic in their posts rather than just aiming for something they know will receive a bunch of likes.
On the other hand, removing likes could also mark a seismic change for Instagram influencers — who are usually paid by brands to push their products based on the popularity of their posts — as well as companies that rely on social media engagement and partnerships.