Instagram Stops Showing How Many Likes A Photo Gets In Test Program Rolled Out In Canada


Instagram has rolled out a test program that will disable users from seeing how many likes another users’ photos garnered, Tech Crunch reports.

You may have heard the rumor on Wednesday that Instagram is disabling likes. That’s not entirely true, however. While the social media platform is disabling likes indirectly, they’re only doing so for Canadian users; it’s only for a test period; users will still be able to like photos; and what’s more, individuals who post photos will still be able to see how many likes their own photos get.

If that sounds confusing, here’s how it will work out in practice.

Imagine a Canadian Instagram user, we’ll call him @PoutineLover. When @PoutineLover posts a photo, say of his plate of Tim Horton’s donuts, only he will be able to see how many likes it gets. Other Instagram users, whether in Canada or not, will be able to like @PoutineLover’s photo, but they will not be able to see how many likes the photo got. Only @PoutineLover will be able to see that.

Likes will still be tallied by Instagram’s internal algorithm and pictures will still be ranked in the feed based on that information.

The program applies only to Canada, so for now, Instagram users outside of Canada won’t be bedeviled by disabled likes.

Instagram boss Adam Mosseri says via PetaPixel that the plan is part of an overall effort to reduce the importance of likes to Instagram users.

“We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram, and spend a bit more time connecting with the people they care about.”

Although Instagram didn’t mention specifics in rolling out the program, PetaPixel writer Michael Zhang suggests that the reason for the program may have to do with so-called “like farming.”

In what is quickly becoming the bane of social media executives everywhere, some users are resorting to artificially boosting the number of likes by resorting to bots — that is, computer programs that use bogus users and other shady methods to repeatedly like a post. Doing so increases the prominence of a post in the social media platform’s algorithm, making it more likely to be featured, and thus shown to more users. That sort of thing can make or break a celebrity or politician’s account. And it harms users who don’t have the money to pay for likes, or who would rather get their likes in both an organic and honest way.

It remains unclear, as of this writing, how long the test program will last.