Instagram is launching a real-world test of hiding Like counts on photos and videos, an idea that was leaked earlier this month. Within the next several days, users in Canada will no longer be able to see the numbers of likes on posts by people they follow.
At its F8 developer conference yesterday, Facebook confirmed that the removal of public Likes is more than an internal idea or mockup and is something Instagram is considering rolling out to its community. Starting next week, Instagram users in Canada will no longer see the total number of likes on photos and videos in their feed and in profiles.
“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get,” Instagram states in a message displayed to users in the test. “During this test, only you will be able to see the total number of likes on your posts.”
This change only applies to viewing other people’s posts, though, so Instagram users will still be able to see the Like counts on their own content.
The goal of this potential change is to make Instagram less of a post popularity contest and more about the content itself. The Like count on posts has become such an important metric in the exploding influencer industry that many people are finding ways to cheat and game the system, even going so far as to pay hefty amounts of money for fake Likes by bot accounts.
Whether or not Instagram does remove Likes for all users will presumably depend on how Canadian users respond to the change.