Instagram experiments with hiding likes – what does this mean for influencers?

(PHOTO: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
(PHOTO: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

Instagram tests out a new feature that will disable followers from seeing a user’s likes on a post – and this could potentially shake up influencers.

According to Elle, the purpose of this experiment is to reduce the focus on vanity metrics as a result. Although the user will be able to see their likes, this will remain hidden to their followers. This design change was spotted by TechCrunch researcher Jane Manchun Wong, who went on to share a screenshot of this on Twitter.

Although the feature is still an internal prototype that is not yet visible to the public, what will this mean for the Mihlali Ndamases and Sarah Langas of this world? Well, since Insta’s feed algorithms rely heavily on a post likes to measure its reach or popularity, influencers will still rake in their likes so this shouldn’t affect their profitability.

Yet this is Instagram’s way of addressing validation culture as well as focusing on wellbeing aspects particularly for people who don’t have a high following or feel self-conscious. Reduction in the exposure of likes is meant to lessen the pressure for those who use them as a stick to measure popularity.

The main aim of this experiment is for followers to “focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get”, an Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch. This test feature comes after a social media survey conducted in 2017 concluded that Instagram was, “the worst social media network for mental health and wellbeing”.

The survey further elaborated that although it was a virtual platform the amount of “likes” more often than not resulted in an increase of depression and anxiety in reality – particularly among teenagers.