Instagram Expands Testing That Hides ''Likes'' Counts -- Shall It Bring It to the U.S. Too?

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Starting July 18, Instagram expands its test that hides likes to more countries, including Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand, in an attempt to remove pressure on users, the company said in a statement.

As of Thursday, users in these nations would only see a user name "and others" below photos and videos but not a number on the main feed, profiles or permalink pages. However, the account administrators would still be able to monitor the number of likes their posts get.

The controversial change started in May in Canada and is now spreading across the world. According to an Instagram spokesperson, one of its main goals is to focus on the content you share and not no how many likes it would eventually get.

Public Instagram "likes" seem to serve as a metric of success to many people. If a photo or a video does not get the expected number of likes, the Instagram users tend to delete it to create the impression that all their posts are popular.

A research by the Royal Society for Public Health in the United Kingdom showed that Instagram was the most damaging social media app for young people's mental health. Not receiving enough "hearts" has impacted the self-esteem of young adolescents, researchers concluded.

Not everyone welcomes the change though. According to some experts, the test misses some other factors affecting the well-being of Instagram users. For instance, it does not take measures against bullying or the feeling of being left out. 

Prof. Renee Engeln from the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University commented that the most significant impact of Instagram is its content. The continual exposure of the perfect Instagram lives of the others is what hurts people, prof. Engeln said.

From a business point of view, the changes would make Instagram less competitive, Mia Garlick, the Director of Public Policy for Instagram in Australia noted.

Instagram confirmed it would not make any changes to the measurement tools such as Insights and Ads Manager.  Influencers make use of them regularly, so they would continue to record the likes and the engagement metrics.

Earlier this month, Instagram launched another feature to combat online bullying. Once users type a nasty or offensive comment, they get a notification to reconsider their words before publishing.

What do you think? Do you support or oppose the idea of Instagram to hide ''likes''?