Instagram is hiding likes globally and searching for a ‘well-being’ product researcher

Instagram has officially expanded its test of hiding likes to all users globally as the company debates whether to make the change permanent.

In a statement on Twitter Thursday, Instagram explained that participants will only be able to see likes on their own content while the test is ongoing.

“Starting today, we’re expanding our test of private like counts globally,” Instagram said. “If you’re in the test, you’ll no longer see the total number of likes and views on photos and videos posted to Feed unless they’re your own.”

The global expansion comes after the Facebook-owned social media platform initially tested the change in Canada last April. Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand were added to the list in July before the U.S. became the eighth country earlier this month.

Instagram is attempting to determine whether removing likes altogether will make the site feel less competitive and emphasize the quality of content over pure popularity.

The photo-sharing app continues to stress that it is still determining what changes, if any, will be permanently made.

“While the feedback from early testing in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand has been positive, this is a fundamental change to Instagram, and so we’re continuing our test to learn more from our global community,” Instagram added.

The test has sparked a significant backlash since the beginning from influencers who feel such a change could damage them financially since brands often make deals with users based on their reach.

Just last weekend rap star Nicki Minaj vowed to stop posting on Instagram in protest while fellow artist Cardi B called on the social media site to focus on fixing comments instead.

“If anything is affecting Instagram right now, it’s the way the comments have been done or have been changing these past few years,” she said in an Instagram video. “I feel people been sayin’ the most weirdest shit, been starting the craziest arguments, been starting to race bait … because they want to get to the top, they want to get the most reactions. And that’s what I feel: The comments affect more than the likes.”

Instagram has repeatedly stated that it is “actively thinking through ways for creators to communicate value to their partners.”

The global test is part of a larger push from tech companies to focus on “digital wellbeing” as critics point to studies that show social media has an increasingly negative effect on its users.

In fact, a job listing this week from Instagram shows that the company is looking to hire a product researcher focused on “well-being.” The job description says the position will “design and execute studies that address both user behavior and attitudes.”

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Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.