Instagram Will Let Users Hide Likes. Follower Counts are Staying

Instagram logo is displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone in an arranged photograph taken in the Brooklyn Borough of New York, U.S. (Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg)

Instagram Will Let Users Hide Likes. Follower Counts are Staying

Facebook Inc.’s Instagram, as well as the company’s main social network, will let users choose whether to hide “likes” on posts, after years of deliberation and testing.

Users can decide whether to hide their own like counts from themselves or from others on a per-post basis, or can decide not to see anyone else’s likes as they scroll through their feeds, Instagram, the photo and video-sharing service, said Wednesday in a blog post. Tests showed that providing an option on “likes” hasn’t had a big impact on how much people use the product; some are on the platform more after hiding likes because they feel less pressure to perform, while others are less active because it’s harder to see what’s trending.

Instagram Will Let Users Hide Likes. Follower Counts are Staying

Reaction to the change “seems pretty split down the middle in terms of the amount of heat I’m getting from both sides,” Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said in a press briefing. “I actually expect people to turn it on and off, and on and off, when people are in a different head space.”

In its tests, the company didn’t observe a major impact to users’ mental health or wellness, he said. Initially, Instagram said it began exploring the change because it was worried “likes” were making the app too competitive, putting pressure on users and creating anxiety about their posts. The default option will let users see likes.

Instagram Will Let Users Hide Likes. Follower Counts are Staying

Instagram also explored other options that could reduce pressure for users of its app, including hiding the number of followers someone has. That test backfired, because new users of Instagram typically look at other people’s follower lists to build their own networks, the company said.

“It ended up having a completely unrelated negative effect,” Mosseri said, so the company won’t pursue it further.

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