The major change is an attempt to make the app a more healthy place to be, by allowing people to focus on the posts being shared rather than how much engagement they have gathered.
Initially, the feature will be launched with some users in Canada. But it could eventually roll out to all users, leaving them unable to see how many likes their posts get.
People will still be able to see when someone likes their posts, and clicking through will show everyone who has done so. But the only way to find out how many of them there are would be manually counting up, since Instagram will no longer show the big number next to the post.
“Later this week, we’re running a test in Canada that removes the total number of likes on photos and video views in Feed, Permalink pages and Profile,” an Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch, which first reported the news. “We are testing this because we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.
Many influencers and other people who are paid to post on Facebook use the like metric as an important way of understanding how popular and engaging a post is. Those numbers can then affect how much brands will pay them to post, making likes an important number for those users.
Instagram said it was aware that hiding the likes could therefore be financially difficult for many Instagram users. It told Techcrunch it was “thinking through ways for them to communicate value to their brand partners” and that the idea was still in its “exploratory” stages.
As anxiety about the damage social media is doing to people’s mental health and wellbeing has spread, the idea of removing some of the more obvious and competitive markers of a person’s popularity has spread. The idea has gathered support from people including Kanye West, who last year sent a flurry of posts about the damage that like counters were doing to social media users.