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Instagram will test hiding US users' likes

Instagram like
Posted at 3:50 PM, Nov 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-09 15:50:10-05

Posting on Instagram can come with a rush of validation when likes from friends and strangers come pouring in. But those likes will soon be hidden for some U.S. users.

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, its CEO Adam Mosseri said Friday. It's a test that the Facebook-owned platform has already rolled out to seven countries: Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand.

Now the United States will join the list.

Likes, or how many hearts a post gets, will disappear from Instagram's feed and user profile pages. A user can still see how many likes they've received, but their followers won't know the count. It's therefore harder to compare whether your post of a cute dog is getting more traction than a friend's photo of their cat.

Mosseri said the move is aimed at young people. "The idea is to depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition," he said, in remarks given at the Wired 25 Conference.

Speaking at the Wired 25 conference in San Francisco, Mosseri estimated there were about several hundred people in the audience and said some of them would definitely see their likes hidden.

Social media companies have come under pressure to take a more pro-active approach to both monitoring content on their platforms and managing so-called "screen addiction."

Some users have so far expressed relief about the move to hide likes.

But the changes could also be a blow to smaller influencers who relied on large numbers of likes to attract brand deals. While likes may become hidden, Instagram still has another metric: the follower count. For the influencers who make content that usually get a lot of likes but don't necessarily have large amounts of followers, they could see the competition move to a metric that they're not performing as well in.

"We have to see how it affects how people feel about the platform," said Mosseri, "I've been spending a lot of time on this personally."