What is Instagram without likes? Some users are about to find out.
On Tuesday, the Facebook-owned photo sharing app announced it is running a test in Canada starting later this week that hides the total number of likes on photos and videos. Likes, which are shown as hearts on the app, will be removed from the main feed, permalink pages and profiles.
While followers won’t be able to see the total number of likes a post has received, the owner of the account still can.
“We are testing this because we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get,” an Instagram spokesperson said.
The news was announced at Facebook’s (FB) annual developer conference, F8, in San Jose.
The test is likely to elicit a range of reactions, from anger to relief. Likes are often used as a metric of popularity. Some Instagram users feel pressure to rack up the likes or post photos curated for the social media age, such as at Instagrammable pop-ups or social-media friendly restaurants. Not getting enough likes can even affect some users’ self-esteem. According to some studies, Instagram is the most detrimental social networking app for young people’s mental health.
“Likes are powerful because they are immediate feedback,” said Renee Engeln, a psychology professor at Northwestern University. “In a way, likes give you the same kind of hit like a gambler gets at a slot machine.”