Testing systems: Instagram hides post likes count in ‘to remove popularity pressure’

Instagram has begun hiding likes and video views as part of a trial aimed at removing “the pressure” and shifting the focus to “sharing the things” its users enjoy. Users will still be able to see how many views and likes their posts garner, but their followers will only see a user name “and others” below posts, rather than the number of likes on their feed.

A spokeswoman said the trial for some users in countries including Ireland, Italy and Australia was aimed at stopping the platform from feeling “like a competition”.

The change applies to the Instagram’s Feed, Permalink and Profile functions.

“We want Instagram to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves,” said Mia Garlick, Facebook Australia and New Zealand’s director of policy.

“We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love.”

The trial began in Canada in May and has also been rolled out to Brazil, Japan and New Zealand. Measurement tools for businesses will not be affected by the trial, Instagram’s spokeswoman said.

Last week the company unveiled an anti-bullying initiative following high-profile cases such as the death of British teenager Molly Russell. The initiative comes after Instagram has come under fire for not doing enough to tackle online bullying.

According to research by Pew Research Center, 59% of American teenagers have been bullied or harassed online. In the UK, the anti-bullying charity Ditch The Label found that 42% of British 12- to 20-year-olds had been cyberbullied on Instagram in its 2017 bullying survey. Earlier this year, an Ofcom report also warned that online bullying is on the rise.

Announcing its launch on Monday, Instagram said it had already had success with the new feature – which they said during early tests they have found “it encourages some people to undo their comment and share something less hurtful once they have had a chance to reflect”.

The social media site has started rolling out a new feature which notifies people before they post that their comment may be considered offensive.

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