"We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets. "That's how Instagram describes a seemingly small design change test with massive potential impact on user well-being.
Hiding Like counts could reduce herd mentality, where people just like what's already got tons of Likes. It could reduce the sense of competition on Instagram, since users will not compare their own count with those of more popular friends or superstar creatives.
The design change test was spotted by Jane Manchun Wong the Prolific reverse engineering expert and frequent TechCrunch tipster whose spotted tons of Instagram features before they are officially confirmed or launched. Wong discovered the design change test in Instagram's Android code and was able to generate the screenshots above.
You can see the left of the Instagram feed post, which does not have a Like count, but still shows some faces and other people's name who've liked it Users are alerted that only they will see their post's Like counts, and anyone else will not.
Instagram confirmed to TechCrunch that this design is an internal prototype that is not visible to the public yet. A spokesperson told us: "We're not testing this at the moment, but exploring ways to reduce the pressure on Instagram is something we're always thinking about." Other features we've reported on in the same phase, such as video calling
Meanwhile, Wong also recently noticed several other Instagram prototypes lurking in its Android code. These include overlaid stickers for Direct messages Augmented reality filters for Direct Video calls simultaneous co-watching of recommended videos through Direct, karaoke-style lyrics that appear synced to soundtracks in Stories, emoji reactions to feed posts and a shopping bag for commerce.
It seems that there is no plan to hide follower counts on user profiles, which are the true measure of popularity, but also serve the purpose of distinguishing great content creators and evaluating their worth to marketers. Hiding Likes could just put more of a spotlight on follower and comment counts. And even if users do not see like counts, they still have a massive impact on the feed's ranking algorithm, so the creator will still have to wake up for them to be seen.