Instagram is considering hiding like button and like counts on posts to reduce the sense of competition amongst users.
Jane Manchun Wong uncovered the test in the code of Instagram’s Android app:
Instagram will test hiding the number of likes and views that photos and videos receive — a central aspect of its platform — to rein in competitive tendencies and make the experience a little “less pressurised.”
Instagram’s head, Adam Mosseri, said the change is designed to minimise the stress of posting online, where users can fixate on how many likes their videos draw. “We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about,” he said Tuesday during Facebook’s annual developer conference, F8.
In the test run, which will roll out in Canada this week, the Facebook-owned site will display user posts as it would normally, but people scrolling through the feed won’t see like counts. Account owners will still be able to check the tallies on their own photos and videos by clicking through a prompt.
Instagram also confirmed to TechCrunch that this design is being worked on internally but is not visible to the public yet.
This could improve the Instagram experience in a number of ways. Hiding like counts could make the whole experience feel more organic.
People may feel more inclined to share what they want rather than focusing on what will get the most likes. To that end, people may also feel less inclined to delete a post when it doesn’t meet a certain threshold of likes.
Adam Mosseri, CEO of Instagram, says the platform will test hiding the “like” count from photos and remove viewership numbers from videos to get users to pay more attention to the content itself. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News)
The psychological drawbacks of social media use have gained more attention in recent years, with parents, consumer advocates and even tech companies pointing to its potential to increase anxiety and social isolation. Technologists also have taken issue with popular social media platforms that place engagement metrics at center stage, encouraging users to maximise those figures by spending more time on the site and perpetuating a feedback loop of notifications and social validation.
I personally think this will be a good move to make. The pressure of posting will be minimised, making Instagram become a more social place to be. At the end of the day, social media is all about being social and communicating rather than just simply gathering likes, so it would be amazing to see people post what they want without worrying about the likes and really focus on organic engagement building.
What are your views on Instagram removing the like button? Do you think it’s the right decision?