Instagram is to begin testing hiding content “likes” in the United States this week. The change will first be rolled out to a limited number of accounts in the U.S., and users of those accounts will still be able to see how many likes they got on their own posts.
“It’s about young people,” Mosseri said during the Wired panel. “The idea is to try to ‘depressurize’ Instagram, make it less of a competition and give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love, things that inspire them.”
“It means we’re going to put a 15-year-old kid’s interests before a public speaker’s interest,” he added. “When we look at the world of public content, we’re going to put people in that world before organizations and corporations.”
Hiding likes would fundamentally change the way Instagram works, as liking photos and garnering likes is one of the platform’s main features.
Heads up! We’ve been testing making likes private on Instagram in a number of countries this year. We’re expanding those tests to include a small portion of people in the US next week. Looking forward to the feedback!
— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) November 9, 2019
The Facebook-owned, photo-based platform has conducted similar trials in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand. The removal of Instagram likes follows other recent user-focused changes, like the addition of a timer that shows users how long they’ve spent in the app, and the removal of the Instagram Activities feed.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Saturday praised Instagram’s decision to bring its like-hiding experiments to the U.S., retweeting Mosseri’s Friday tweet and adding the comment, “Great step.”
Dorsey has previously questioned the wisdom of Twitter’s own use of likes. At last year’s WIRED25 summit, the Twitter chief said: “Right now we have a big Like button with a heart on it and we’re incentivizing people to want it to go up [to get more followers]. Is that the right thing? Versus contributing to the public conversation or a healthy conversation? How do we incentive healthy conversation?”
Twitter has since played down reports that it plans to kill off the like button, but has acknowledged that it continues to look at the function’s use and how it fits in with the platform’s aim to promote “healthy conversation.”