Instagram Tests Hiding Likes


Emily Chen, Staff Writer

Instagram will soon be testing a version of its platform that hides the number of likes on posts by other users. If it is successful, Instagram plans to use this new system to lessen the negative mental health impacts caused by social media use.

The new system will be tested with an unknown number of Instagram users in the U.S. It has already been tested in seven other countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand. Users involved in the test are likely to receive a notification telling them so. They will still be able to like posts and see the number of likes on the posts they create themselves. However, the number of likes on posts by other users will not be visible.

Instagram believes that hiding like counts on posts will improve user experience on its platform. Social media apps make it easy for users to compare themselves to others. This is one of the reasons why social media has often been linked to mental health issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression, especially in teens. Receiving fewer likes than those who they follow could cause a user to develop any of these problems. By preventing people from seeing the number of likes on other users’ posts, this risk can be lowered.

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri explained, “The idea is to try and depressurize Instagram. Make it less of a competition. Give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love, things that inspire them.” He stated that the new system is “really focused on young people,” who make up the majority of Instagram’s audience.

While Instagram’s goal of improving its users’ mental health has received much praise and support, many argue that the company’s methods for doing so are not going to be effective. “The biggest impact of Instagram is the content,” rather than how it performs, according to Renee Engeln, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University. Viewing images posted by other users can lower a person’s self-esteem because doing so makes them feel jealous, left out, or inadequate.

 Engeln elaborated, “the exposure to this constant stream of perfected images is what seems to hurt psychologically.” Additionally, several users claim that the area of Instagram most in need of improvement is the comment section. Cyberbullying is a growing issue that users urge the platform not to overlook.

As of now, it is unclear whether or not Instagram’s new system is truly effective.