In an attempt to decrease the pressure on users, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app, Instagram has started hiding “likes” option on its platform. The first countries from which the app has removed the likes option include Australia, Brazil Italy, Ireland, Japan, and New Zealand. This means that users in these six countries will no longer be able to see how many likes other person’s post has received.
The policy director, Mia Garlick from Facebook Australia and New Zealand said in a statement, “We want Instagram to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves. We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love”.
Instagram said that they are hiding the likes button as a test for users, and launched this trial from Canada in May. However, the platform has not presented any deadline for when this trial would end.
Instagram has over one billion users worldwide and it allows its users to post pictures and videos on their profiles that others can like or comment on. But now in the selected countries where Instagram is conducting this test, likes will not be visible on people’s profiles, the main image feed, and the permalink pages. The users will be able to see the number of likes on their own posts, but they are required to click through to another page in order to view those likes.
In the past few months, the social media giants have faced massive criticism over the impact of their platforms on the user’s mental health. According to research, Instagram can have a huge negative impact on the mental health of young users. A 2017 study by the Royal Society for Public Health ranked Instagram as the worst platform for young user’s mental health in the United Kingdom.
A 2018 survey from the Pew Research Center found that nearly 40% of teenagers felt pressure to share only that digital content on the platform that had garnered a lot of likes or comments.
Instagram has also said that hiding the likes option would have no effect on the measurement tools used by companies, that use their platform to promote their products.