This past week Jane Manchun Wong, a reverse engineer known for finding new features and changes hidden in the code of popular social apps, made a shocking, and for some, somewhat unsettling announcement. Instagram is considering hiding post likes from viewers.
While the site will navigate as normal, the only thing missing will be the likes visible underneath the post.
Wong posted screenshots and said, “We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shared a post will see the total number of likes it gets.”
And then, according to Instagram’s spokesperson, “Exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about,” and one of the main ways that stress is induced is by a feeling of competition that comments and likes raise when compared to other accounts.
Instagram has also hinted at possibly even making it more difficult for the account users to view and count their own likes, by showing them a list, that they would have to total up themselves.
What does this mean for the future?
For many, this presents a unique issue, the main one being that influencers and businesses rely on their engagement to allow potential sponsors and consumers to see how well they are doing, and they may now be at a loss. How will they prove their popularity to everyone? Since many accounts long ago began “buying” followers, the only way to actually know how large an account’s reach is through their engagement. Take that away and what do you have left?
When does this happen?
Instagram has said that as of this week they plan on testing this new method in Canada and see how it is received. I’m sure they are not half as eager to find out as the one billion users that use the app on a daily basis.