Screenshots revealed by researcher Jan Manchun Wong show that Instagram might modify posts so that people can’t see how many likes a post has gotten. Alternatively, the post would show that it was liked by a few handles “and others.”
“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get,” Instagram says in an in-app message explaining the change, per Fast Company. “During this test, only the person who shared a post will see the total number of likes it gets.” The notice seems to be aimed at influencers or would-be influencers.
The move looks to be rooted in a growing concern of like counts being negatively connected to mental health
. Sometimes, like counts can even prompt people to take part in dangerous situations to obtain photos that spawn many likes. In 2016, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom told TechCrunch
that Instagram Stories were developed so that users can escape the stress of like counts.
Instagram told TechCrunch
that the like count adjustment is an internal test that isn’t yet open to the public. An Instagram spokesperson shared in a statement that the feature isn’t being tested “at the moment,” but that “exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about.”
Instagram’s trial run arrives a month after Twitter
indicated that a redesign might be in the future, where it would be more difficult to see retweet counts. According to founder Jack Dorsey
, this is an attempt to abate the herd mentality and further the platform’s attempts to make the site less abusive.