More than two years after it first began experimenting with hiding likes, Instagram is making the feature official. The app will now allow all users to hide preferences, though it’s keeping the feature optional, and users will need to enable the obscured like counts in their settings.
With the update, users can remove likes counts from their own posts or hide likes on other users’ posts in their feeds. Users who choose to hide preferences on their own photos will still see who interacted with their posts, but it will take a few extra taps to access the stats.
The change is a somewhat watered-down version of Facebook’s which didn’t give users a choice about whether they would see likes. The company had hoped that making likes less prominent would “depressurize” the app and take away some of the negative pressure associated with the service. But the early experiments have proved controversial among some users, and Instagram chief Adam Mosseri The Information that hiding likes were “polarizing” and that his “rationale has changed.”
At the same time, Instagram and Facebook are still grappling with questions about social media, particularly for younger users. And lawmakers have raised questions about teens’ mental health amid the company’s plan to create a version of more youthful than 13.
Instagram says it plans to fund more into its platform, including how it affects teens and younger users in its latest announcement. The company is soliciting proposals from researchers and nonprofits to “help us better understand experiences on Instagram that may or may not contribute to the safety and health of our community.”
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