In a leaked design prototype, it appears that Instagram is exploring a small but significant change to its platform: hiding Likes. In an effort to promote a more authentic social environment, the company tested a design which hides the total ‘Like count’ on users’ posts. Although people will be able to see their total number of Likes on their own posts, their followers will not be able to see the number.
“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets,” stated Instagram.
A spokesperson from the company also stated, “We’re not testing this at the moment, but exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about.”
Despite being one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, it’s well-known that Instagram doesn’t always foster authenticity. In many ways, the platform has become a popularity contest whereby people compare themselves to others based on the number of followers and likes they have. This results in users creating ‘ideal’ online personas that they think will be popular among their friends and followers.
For a while now, Instagram has been well aware of how Like counts can drastically affect its users’ self-esteem. In fact, this issue is what motivated the company to introduce Instagram Stories back in 2016.
This small design change could potentially improve the issues surrounding user authenticity on Instagram, and hopefully, will encourage users to share and Like what truly interests them. For example, instead of liking posts simply because they already have thousands of Likes, people will Like what actually interests them.
In addition, hiding Like counts could have a positive impact on users’ self-image, particularly the younger crowd. Many Instagrammers use the number of likes they receive as a basis to compare themselves to their friends or influencers, which fuels an unhealthy relationship between them and their social profiles. For instance, many users delete their photos that don’t get enough Likes. Instagram’s design change could be a step in the right direction towards improving users’ relationship with their social profiles.
The prototype was reportedly discovered by Jane Manchun Wong, who spotted it in Instagram’s Android code. In her discovery, Wong also managed to generate screenshots that show what the new design will look like.
In the new design,
you can see that although users will not be able to see the number of likes on
a post, they can still see a few names of others who have liked it.
According to TechCrunch, Instagram stated that the prototype is not visible to the general public as of yet.
Wong also discovered many other prototypes hidden in Instagram’s android code, reported TechCrunch. Other prototypes include: “chat thread stickers for Direct messages, augmented reality filters for Direct Video calls, simultaneous co-watching of recommended videos through Direct, karaoke-style lyrics that appear synced to soundtracks in Stories, emoji reactions to feed posts and a shopping bag for commerce.”
Although it looks like there is no plan to officially launch the prototype at the moment, it’s very possible that the change will be implemented in the future. Not only would hiding Like counts help to address the platform’s issue of user authenticity, it could also significantly alter the way Instagrammers view their self-worth.