Facebook-owned photo and video-sharing social networking service, Instagram is planning to test a new feature that will offer the users an option to hide the like count on their posts. The company had been planning to introduce such feature on Facebook as well as Instagram for the past two years. Meanwhile, it thoroughly researched the possible impacts of the feature on the well-being of the users and the social media experience.
According to Instagram, “Starting today, we’re expanding our test of private like counts globally. If you’re in the test, you’ll no longer see the total number of likes and views on photos and videos posted to Feed unless they’re your own”.
How was the concept of the Instagram feature welcomed?
The idea to introduce a feature to hide the like count on Instagram posts was initially welcomed positively. Later, several content creators and business owners expressed their discontent regarding the feature. This is because the like count helps them find popular accounts so that they can identify new talent and business partners.
According to Instagram, “While the feedback from early testing in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand has been positive, this is a fundamental change to Instagram, and so we’re continuing our test to learn more from our global community”.
What are the possible impacts of the new feature?
The impacts of Instagram’s feature to hide the like count are as follows.
Difficulty in finding collaborators and business partners
The attributes of Instagram posts such as comments, likes, and the actions are taken serve an important role in account promotion. Like count indicates the reach and popularity of an Instagram account. Content creators across the globe use like count as a metric to find people to collaborate. Moreover, business account holders in the field of fashion, products, and sales use the like count to find clients and partners.
Fewer post promotions
Hiding the like count of an Instagram post will drastically reduce the visibility of an account in the public domain. This is because the Instagram algorithm recommends posts on the basis of the like count, comments, and the number of times the post was shared via DM. As soon as the user chooses to publicly hide the like count on any of his/her post, Instagram will not have any metric to boost the post.
Skewed Instagram browsing experience
The feature to hide the like count may result in a skewed Instagram browsing experience. As more and more users choose to hide the like count on their posts, their posts will gradually stop appearing in the Explore tab. In other words, the Explore tab will be full of posts by only those people who keep the like count public. As a result, the app will lose the diversity of account visibility and turn into a collection of redundant posts.
According to Instagram, “In addition, we understand that like counts are important for many creators, and we are actively thinking through ways for creators to communicate value to their partners”.
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