Are Instagram and Facebook ending like counts permanently?
Menlo Park, California - Instagram and Facebook will give users the option to opt out of seeing Like counts in the future, with the goal of helping them avoid pressure to succeed, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said a Wednesday's announcement.
The announcement clarified that the company wanted users to be able to focus on using the app to connect with friends and enabling them to "focus on the photos and videos being shared, instead of how many likes posts get."
The feature will roll out first on photo and video platform Instagram, and a few weeks later on "The Gram's" parent company, Facebook.
Users will get two new settings options. First, they can choose to hide the number of likes on others' posts in general. For their own posts, they can choose whether to show the Like count for each post individually.
The Like button itself will not disappear.
Instagram has been experimenting with not displaying Like counters since 2019, with dissatisfied participants in the testing phase arguing that they rely on Like counts to see relevance of posts and trends, Mosseri said.
Functionality of the platforms remains unchanged
In the end, Mosseri said they decided to leave the decision up to users, and he expects that many of them will oscillate between displaying Like numbers and not. He himself has done the same.
The new setting won't change the way the platforms work, Mosseri said, adding that the algorithm that selects the order of posts makes predictions about how interesting the content would be to a user.
Like counts are one factor in those predictions, he said, but which posts a user likes or whether they like videos more than photos are more relevant to the algorithm.
The test runs had no impact on content creators' revenues, Mosseri stressed, nor had users' behavior fundamentally changed in the tests – but surveys did show they were happier.
"I want people to do well when they spend time on Instagram and Facebook," Mosseri said.
Instagram CEO says the goal is to "amplify the good and reduce the negative"
Mosseri stressed that he is aware bad things happen on the Instagram platform.
With more than a billion users, there are good and bad people, he said. "It's our responsibility to amplify the good and reduce the negative."
He thinks the innovation will change how people think about Instagram in the long run.
The lengthy deliberations on how to handle the Like count spooked some content creators who are trying to make money on Instagram with their videos.
Creators with as yet few followers were particularly concerned, he said: "They want to be seen as relevant – and they want to show how interesting they are," including by the number of likes.
In early March, Instagram caused an uproar when it accidentally removed the Like indicator for many users who were not part of the previous test group.
Mosseri apologized at the time, and the numbers were quickly restored.
Cover photo: 123RF/vasilyrosca