UPDATE (November 9, 2019): In April 2019, rumors started swirling that Instagram may soon make like counts on posts invisible to everyone but the person who posted it. The gossip was propelled — and supported — by leaked prototype screenshots indicating the app's possible plans. Then, in the months that followed, Instagram started making good on its purported plans by testing hidden likes in Canada, Japan, Australia, and several other countries. And now, according to Instagram head Adam Mosseri, likes are about to start disappearing from U.S. feeds.
On Friday, November 8, Mosseri announced at Wired25, a tech summit hosted by Wired magazine in San Francisco, that Instagram will begin rolling out a test of hidden likes on a limited number of American accounts. "So right now we're testing making like counts private," he said while seated onstage between Tracee Ellis Ross and Wired's Arielle Pardes, explaining that the testing would start in the U.S. "next week." Although he didn't give many details about how many people will initially be affected, he looked out at the audience and said, "There's a couple hundred people in here, so yeah, definitely a couple of you are going to have private likes, I hope."
Mosseri seemed aware of the mixed feelings over this potentially major shift in how Instagram looks and works, but he explained why it's a personal priority for him. "It's about young people. The idea is to try and depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, and give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love, things that inspire them. But it's really focused on young people," he said. "We have to see how it affects how people feel about the platform, how it affects how they use the platform, how it affects the creator ecosystem. But I've been spending a lot of time on this personally."
This post originally appeared on April 26, 2019:
Over the past week, you may have heard (or seen for yourself) Instagram's latest leaked design prototype. You know, the one where like counts will no longer be visible to anyone but the poster. Or, put bluntly, the one that's making just about every user lose their ish. While a billion people use Instagram each and every month, few are as adept to the app as the influencer set. So it goes without saying then that they have some thoughts on the latest purposed change.
Before getting into their ideas on the matter, let's talk about why this change is even a possibility in the first place. Jane Manchun Wong, one of TechCrunch's lead tipsters, discovered the prototype in Instagram's Android code, which she dutifully took screenshots of to share with the world.
In one of the screengrabs, Instagram reveals: “We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets.”
While that may seem alarming for users who rely on their like count (like influencers), for others, it offers less stress and anxiety in relation to validation from the app. A bold mental health move? We're all for it. A dramatic change for the world's biggest social sphere? A little less so.
And we're not alone. Belle Bakst, a New York City-based style influencer with 49,400 followers, says, "I think things will be a little more challenging in terms of figuring out how well a post is performing. I think it will change the dynamic on how influencers talk to brands, and prove that they are, in fact, receiving as much attention and engagement as [they say] they are."
Influencer and Bachelor alum Caila Quinn, who has 356,000 followers, isn't too thrilled about the change either. "Maybe I'm being change averse, but I don't like the idea of hiding 'likes' from the public," she tells Allure. "To me, the algorithm already rewards creative content creators that engage with their audience, so having the 'likes' for everyone to see should be the reward for that hard work. When we work on campaigns with brands, they will still ask for the analytics for the post whether they are public or private anyway, so influencers with poor performing posts aren't getting away with anything. Also, I feel like Instagram users will be encouraged to engage less and 'like' less photos, because they won't get the instant gratification of being able to see that they are contributing to an image's performance. The 'like' is a powerful thing and we shouldn't take it for granted."
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Originally Appeared on Allure