- Instagram plans to test a feature that hides “like” counts on posts for some US users starting this week.
- Celebrities and influencers have expressed outrage with the experimental feature, arguing that it weakens their leverage over brand deals and promotions.
- But a few celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, have praised the decision.
- The feature has already been piloted in seven countries including Australia, Ireland, and Canada.
Instagram is testing a new feature in the US this week that could be its most controversial yet: hiding the number of “likes” on posts.
The new feature, announced by Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri on Friday, is being met with strong backlash, especially from many influencers and celebrities.
Not a good marketing strategy for business purposes… an option to the user, yes if it’s a choice but disabling is from seeing likes completely will ruin instagram’s users in the US. Don’t “like” the idea ????
— ginam_chronicles (@GinaMChronicles) November 9, 2019
The feature has already been piloted in seven countries including Australia, Ireland, and Canada in recent months. When it was rolled out there, influencers complained that hiding likes would give them less leverage over brand deals and sponsored content.
Now, American celebrities are calling out the app for experimenting with removing likes, with some threatening to stop posting to Instagram. Others joked on Twitter about the proposed changes.
But some, including Kim Kardashian, have heralded Instagram’s decision as a boon to users’ mental health.
“We’re testing this because we want Instagram to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves. This includes helping people to focus on the photos and videos they share, not how many likes they get,” a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, told Business Insider.
Here’s what influencers and celebrities are saying about the new feature that hides likes on Instagram.
Nicki Minaj threatened to stop posting on Instagram if the feature were to take effect.
- Getty/Gilbert Carrasquillo
I’m not posting on IG after this week cuz they removing the likes. Hmmmm what should I get into now? Think of all the time I’ll have with my new life
— Mrs. Petty (@NICKIMINAJ) November 9, 2019
Minaj went on to speculate that Instagram was hiding likes to manipulate what posts users saw in their feed, regardless of how much engagement posts were getting.
- Jeff Kravitz/AMA2014/FilmMagic via Getty Images
And who do you think is controlling those numbers? so that influencers can be out here “influencing” ppl to LIKE all the new stuff they bout to do? They gotta get y’all on board to spread the word. Just like how YouTube can take away or add a million views @ any given moment ???? https://t.co/7Bqz0QbRvI
— Mrs. Petty (@NICKIMINAJ) November 10, 2019
Minaj apparently referred to the well-documented phenomenon of YouTube view counts fluctuating after videos are posted, which can happen when YouTube determines views come from bots or other fraudulent sources.
The rapper Juicy J predicted backlash against the change, tweeting that he expected people to leave Instagram and go “back to real life.”
- Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
Instagram is getting rid of the “likes”???? time to go back to real life ???????????? niggaz finna spazz
— juicy j (@therealjuicyj) November 9, 2019
Cardi B took to Instagram to protest the feature, arguing that removing likes wouldn’t make Instagram any less toxic because “the comments affect more than the likes.”
The rapper Rico Nasty said the decision to hide likes would “kill Instagram.”
- Monica Almeida/Reuters
Damn they really gonna kill Instagram how they did MySpace …. what a time y’all see y’all on the new app ????????
— TACOBELLA (@Rico_nastyy) November 10, 2019
But some people, including Kim Kardashian West, view the decision to hide likes as a good thing.
- Slaven Vlasic/Getty
“As far as mental health, I mean it’s something that taking the likes away and taking that aspect away from it would be really beneficial for people,” Kardashian West said during The New York Times’ DealBook conference last week.
Tracee Ellis Ross also voiced support for removing likes, saying the like count had “adverse effects.” “It creates a culture that isn’t helpful for well-being and isn’t fruitful for creative energy,” she said.
- Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images
Ross made the statement last week during a panel discussion with Mosseri facilitated by Wired.
And some influencers have argued that the number of likes on a post is irrelevant compared with other metrics like follower counts and impressions.
Karen Civil, a social-media strategist, made the case that influencers shouldn’t pay too much attention to how many likes their posts got.
What sounds more impressive as a business:
I paid for an ad and the post has a reach of 10k followers and was shared 500 times and lead to 320 clicks on the link in the influencer bio
I paid for an ad and it got 9,000 likes.#CivilChat
— Karen Civil ???????? (@KarenCivil) November 9, 2019