Some Instagram users in Australia are no longer able to see exactly how many likes other users’ posts have received, after the social media platform expanded a test to hide like counts to more countries today.
Instagram has been testing hidden like counts in Canada for the past 2.5 months, and on Thursday, the platform expanded the test to six more countries, including Australia and New Zealand.
According to reports, users involved in the test can still see how many likes their own posts receive, but the number is not made public, unless they opt out of the test. Instead, posts show the usernames of one or two people, and say they and “others” have liked the post.
The company, which is owned by Facebook, has said it is exploring whether hidden like counts will encourage users to pay more attention to the photos and videos being shared, rather than the number of likes a post receives.
The change comes amid growing concern about the impact of social media on users’ mental health, especially young people. A recent study conducted with university students found that those who limited their total time on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to 30 minutes per day reported feeling less depressed and lonely.
The head of Instagram Adam Mosseri recently told the Financial Times that ensuring safety and well-being on the platform is his “number-one priority”.
In addition to hiding like counts, the platform is also exploring features to reduce bullying on Instagram, such as a new “nudge” feature that will warn users if they’re about to comment something hurtful, and an “away mode” that will enable users to take a break from the platform without deleting their account.
The platform is also exploring ways to enable users to control how certain people interact with them without having to block them completely.
But while these measures largely have been welcomed by users, it is unclear how they will impact the millions of businesses that use Instagram to share new products and offerings with consumers.
Like counts not only give businesses a rough indication of how popular certain products or trends are, they are a key metric for influencers and the brands that hire them.
An Instagram spokesperson told the US publication, TechCrunch, in April: We understand that this is important for many creators, and while this test is in exploratory stages, we are thinking through ways for them to communicate value to their brand partners.”
Inside Retail has asked Instagram for comment but did not receive a reply by the time of this writing.