What you need to know
- Facebook had started testing private like counts back in 2019.
- The change allowed you to hide the number of likes your posts received, as well as strip like counts from your feed.
- It's now being made available globally.
Facebook is rolling out a new change that'll allow you to hide like counts on your Instagram feed. This change will apply both to your page as well as to those of others. In other words, you'll be able to hide like counts on your own posts so others can't see them, and you'll be able to hide the like counts on posts in your feed so you can't see them.
A test that started in 2019 showed the first steps of this change, and the company initially said that it wanted "your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get."
The change was intended to improve people's experience on Instagram and remove the pressure to post for the likes. Instagram, while popularising the "Like" tool as a measure of engagement, also increased pressure to perform in terms of likes. As a result, people would make posts with the right hashtags, optimize their photos with filters, or even purchase likes just to keep up with their peers. This new update is meant to remove that incentive and allow people to just post.
However, Instagram also noted that some people would like to keep seeing like counts, so it has become optional. It's possible that an all-or-nothing approach à la VSCO or Dispo would be easier to force a cultural change in the community. However, the company would be upsetting its stream of influencers who often need these metrics to compare themselves with others.
Speaking to the Washingon Post when the company accidentally extended its test this year, an esthetician called Nayamka Roberts-Smith, said:
In hiding likes, it's difficult for me; it feels like it prevents me from learning how other people use Instagram and how I might want to use Instagram. I would still have my analytics, but that only shows one side, and I really like seeing how other people's posts perform.
Like or hate it, this change is live on Instagram accounts across the globe today. Facebook says it'll be coming to the main Facebook app within the next couple of weeks.