Instagram’s Reaction Redaction

Public likes aren’t long for this world

“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets.”

This is how Instagram described a test of a “small” design change.

Instagram is testing a design change that would hide the number of likes a post has to the general public. Only the user would see how many likes one of their posts has.

A reverse engineer expert, Jane Manchun Wong, discovered the test of the new design change hidden inside the Android code. She was able to generate the screenshots below based on the code she found of the test.

What does this mean for users

Less “Like” Envy

The design change is meant to impact the “death by comparison” aspect of Instagram. Between click farms and purchased followers, people have gone to long lengths to create engagement and the appearance of status.

In the long run, this will create a much healthier platform for users. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom, went as far as to justify the creation of Instagram’s Story feature to an unhealthy user obsession with getting likes.

Content Over Engagement

This might get tricky for the growing influencer culture. For creators, this puts you in a conundrum. As herd mentality will no longer drive engagement, a post’s substance must take its place.

Likes, comments, and other engagement will still fuel Instagram’s algorithm. But without the public visibility of a “viral post”, users have to actually like something in order to double-tap. Post reach on Instagram will have the greatest impact.

Design Impacts Use

How something is designed impacts how something is used. In this subtle design change, Instagram is putting creativity, expression, and interest back at the heart of its platform and emphasizing healthy and meaningful engagement.

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