Instagram’s hidden likes experiment goes global

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Your fans will know you are liked. They just won't know how much.
Photo: Iouri Goussey/Wikimedia CC

Anxious influencers worldwide opened their Instagram feeds to a new reality today: the “like” tally on their posts won’t be seen by their followers.

Instagram started removing public-face “likes” this summer as a test in a few countries. The test is now global and Instagram took to Twitter this morning in hopes of reassuring content creators who make money off their posts.

“While the feedback from early testing in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand has been positive, this is a fundamental change to Instagram,” according to posts on the photo-sharing app’s Twitter page. “We understand that like counts are important for many creators, and we are actively thinking through ways for creators to communicate value to their partners.”

Instagram’s claim that feedback was positive is being disputed on a growing thread of responses to its Twitter post.

Instagram's Twitter announcement on hiding likes
The announcement came this morning on Twitter.
Screenshot: Instagram/Twitter

Instagram, owned by Facebook, is in the midst of soul searching as it tweaks the platform to ease social pressure and thwart online bullying.

It has added fact-checkers, fine-tuned algorithms to flag potentially hurtful messages before they are received, and, most recently, eliminated plastic-surgery emulation filters to answer concerns about an increase in body dysmorphia.

When the hidden “likes” trial began in Australia this summer, influencers expressed mixed feelings about its impact.

Some said “likes” bolster earning power and removing the count could reduce sponsorships and fan engagement. One said they would no longer “look like a celebrity.” Instead of a number, posts say “Others like this.”

Some influencers in Australia were to open to the change, especially if it could help ease some of the app’s unintended impact on mental health. One said it could free influencers to post a more “authentic” self.