Last night (March 2), a close friend told me Instagram “likes” were gone. I immediately opened the app and, lo and behold, there were no likes to be found on my account. As I scrolled my feed, I realized I couldn’t see the like counts of anyone else either. As it turns out, that wasn’t supposed to happen. (TBH, I knew something was up when I didn’t see an official announcement on Instagram‘s blog.)
In a statement shared to Instagram‘s Twitter account and with multiple media outlets, the social platform admitted to the temporary flub and reinstated visible likes, much to the relief of users who were either freaking out or excited about the change (no in-between).
“We’ve been testing a new experience to hide likes on Feed posts. We unintentionally added more people to the test today, which was a bug,” read the statement. “We’re fixing this issue and restoring like counts to those people as soon as possible.”
FYI we unintentionally launched our test to hide likes to more people today. Our apologies. https://t.co/3CPpSC7qQW
— Adam Mosseri 😷 (@mosseri) March 3, 2021
Instagram began testing this functionality back in 2019 when it initially launched in Canada. Up until now, we had heard very little about its progress but this hiccup lets us know that they’re still entertaining the idea. This is the kind of change that would cause a substantial culture shift in social media, making the long testing period understandable.
Instagram getting rid of likes is actually kind of awesome. So many people are addicted to how many “likes” they can get instead of posting what truly makes them happy. I personally love it.
— 𝒟ℴ𝒸𝓉ℴ𝓇 𝒮𝓁ℯℯ𝓅 (@alyssamdicarlo) March 3, 2021
I’m truly torn on whether I think hiding instagram likes will be healthy for me as an influencer (who typically has to “deliver” a certain amount of impressions for brand deals), I think I kind of feel more stressed?
— lauren (@laurDIY) March 3, 2021
The appeal of an Instagram experience without likes is that it could help promote a healthier mindset among users who have become acclimated to measuring success by numbers. For influencers, hidden likes may negatively impact relationships with brands that often agree to partnerships based on a person’s social media reach.
To that same point, hidden likes may not take away the ability to see your analytics and share with others but the time spent doing so could take away from meaningful engagement with your followers. Time will only tell if this becomes a permanent change.
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