Instagram will test letting users toggle public like counts on and off

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Instagram will test giving people more control over where they see like counts on posts. The company announced a “small global test” that will present users with three options when it comes to the like count: choosing not to see like counts on anyone’s posts, turning them off for their own posts, or keeping the original experience. It also said it was “working on a similar experience” for Facebook, but it hasn’t clarified what that might look like.

This builds on an initial Instagram test that hid the public like count for certain users around the world. In that case, users didn’t have a choice about whether they saw the like count or not. Instagram told users at the time that it wanted people to “focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.” Influencers initially worried this could impact brand deals because their engagement rates wouldn’t be public, but that reality hasn’t played out because they’ve been able to view their own like counts privately and share them with brand partners. Still, providing a more custom experience might be the right direction for the platform to move toward, giving people who are aware of how public like counts make them feel a chance to escape them, while also allowing people who want to keep track of the counts able to do so.

Facebook also initially tested hiding the public like count in 2019. That test hid public like, reaction, and video view counts. It’s unclear whether this new test could apply to all of those surfaces or just the like count on posts. That Facebook test isn’t live yet, and Facebook says it’ll be learning from this new test and will “have more to share soon.”

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