The social media platform Instagram may be well known for its “likes” feature, but that may soon be a thing of the past, per BBC News. The app giant is currently testing getting rid of the feature, and has already rolled out the new changes in countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan and Brazil. There has not yet been a timeline set for the United States.
“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,” said Mia Garlick, Facebook Australia and New Zealand director of policy, in a statement.
Instagram chief Adam Mosseri echoed similar sentiments.
“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 that they care about.”
The “likes” feature is what ranks popularity in the Instagram world. Celebrities will receive hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of likes for a single picture. However, when translated to the everyday experience, the quest for likes is alleged to lead to anxiety and depression, especially among teenagers.
In fact, Instagram was deemed the worst social media app for mental health in a study by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for Public Health, per Time. From a survey of 1,500 teenagers and adults, respondents reported that Instagram was linked with “high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and FOMO, or the ‘fear of missing out.'”
Similarly, a Pew Research Poll found that 37 percent of teens said they felt pressure to have their posts receive a lot of likes, and 26 percent said social media can make them feel worse about their lives.
Instagram bosses started looking into the concept of removing likes after the huge success of Instagram Stories. According to The Huffington Post, the feature was actually created to alleviate the pressure of getting likes, and does not show how many people have seen the Story. It is then deleted after 24 hours.
Moreover, users will privately be able to see how many likes their photos get — it will just be hidden to the outside world. That means influencers can still use their social media might to make an income and earn contracts.
Early users of the new feature have generally been positive about their experiences. Sarah Roberts, a 22-year-old writer in Canada, told HuffPost that she “loved” the new changes.
“Personally, I love not seeing the like count,” she said. “This feels like more of what Instagram should be rather than an advertisement of ourselves on our page.”