Could Instagram be set to give users the option to display the total like counts on their posts once again?
According to a new discovery by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, Instagram's currently testing a new option which would enable users to hide or unhide like counts on their posts.
That would enable users to display their total like counts for each post once again, which Instagram removed for most users back in 2019 as part of an initiative to support audience wellbeing.
The theory, at the time, was that by removing like counts on posts, that would reduce competition over vanity metrics, which would in-turn lessen social comparison, and its associated negative impacts. That's especially important for a visual-focused platform like Instagram, which is also particularly popular among impressionable young users.
Instagram hasn't revealed any specific data on the effectiveness of hidden like counts experiment, but associated research studies have shown that the initiative could be beneficial, based on smaller-scale test scenarios. And Instagram's stuck with it thus far, so you'd assume it must be showing some positive signs, based on its internal metrics.
But maybe, the findings have also shown that some people still want to show their total like counts, and with like counts providing an indicator of relevance on other platforms (for example, TikTok), that could lead to Instagram giving users the choice as to whether they want the total count displayed on their posts or not.
Paluzzi also notes that users would be able to hide like counts on posts both within the composer when initially posting, and in retrospect, while Instagram's also looking to add a setting which would enable users to hide like counts on other people's posts, as displayed within their app.
It's hard to say whether this would be a positive or negative move without definitive data on the impacts of the initial test of hiding like counts - which no doubt Instagram would communicate if it were to roll out this new change. But giving people the option does seem like it could still provide similar benefits, while also giving more display metrics to those who choose to show them.
We've asked Instagram for more info on the possible change and we'll update this post if/when we hear back.