There’s been increased pressure on Instagram to make changes in order to reduce the negative impact that the app has on users’ mental health and it has taken a huge step in trying to accomplish that.
The app is now letting users choose to remove the number of “likes” on posts in hopes of helping to “depressurize people’s existence” while using the app, according to them.
Once the feature is enabled, users will see the username of a follower who has liked the post along with “and others” instead of the number of likes. This feature has been test since 2019, but now will be available globally.
Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, told the BBC: “This has taken longer than I had hoped, but I am pretty excited about… giving people more control over the experience.”
Interestingly, Instagram said that in its testing and research the company found that removing “likes” had a small impact on wellbeing or behavior even though many showed concern about the app’s use leading to a decrease in mental health.
However, Mosseri said that Instagram added the feature in order to make “people feel food about the time they spend” while using the app.
He continued: “I do think there’s more to do in this space. The more we can give people the ability to shape Instagram and Facebook into what’s good for them, the better.”
Even if a user has their Like Counts enable, they will still not be able to see the number of “likes” on other accounts that have disabled them. Users will also be able to select specific posts to hide “like” counts before and after the post is live on the app.
Mosseri said: “The spirit of this is to give people a choice. Maybe you want to be a little bit less worried about how many likes everyone’s getting for a couple weeks or a couple of months, and then maybe you want to switch back. If it’s a one-way door, people tend to get hesitant about using the control.”