After several months of testing, hiding likes on Instagram and Facebook is officially now available for all accounts, and it’s not nearly as drastic as some feared. While the long-rumored removal of likes generated a lot of online debate over the psychological effects of social media likes, the end product seems to be a compromise that gives every user the choice of keeping likes on or off. The reasoning behind this new function is to help improve mental health for young users on the platform. Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri explained that “the idea is to try and depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love, things that inspire them. But it’s really focused on young people.”
Because Facebook is making the ability to turn likes off optional, rather than deleting likes for everyone, this update should no longer be a major concern for brands. In fact, for a brand launching or growing a presence on the channel, this feature could be a benefit. After all, whether it’s consciously or subconsciously, low like counts on posts can leave a negative impression on users. Hiding this count allows people to judge posts more objectively. Choosing to hide like counts will not affect the algorithm, so popular posts will still be served at the top of feeds regardless and brands will still have access to all their performance data and metrics.
Hiding likes should not materially affect how brands work with influencers and creators either, because most influencers have a vested interest in keeping likes visible. If they do hide likes, other metrics such as comments, followers, and shares could have a greater impact on the scouting process.
For regular users, the ability to hide likes seems to be an aspirational effort by Facebook to reclaim the early days of using Instagram when people would post freely without worrying about post performance or like counts—but the pressure of modern Instagram behavior may be hard to change. Whether users decide to actually turn this feature on is still to be determined, and mass adoption could take some time or even never fully catch on.
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