Why Turning Off Instagram Likes Won't Change Your Experience

Like it or not

Key Takeaways

  • Instagram introduced the ability to officially hide the like count on your posts last week. 
  • Users can opt-out of the like counts for each post and see "username and others liked this," instead of a specific number. 
  • Hiding like counts don’t fundamentally change the Instagram experience or the self-esteem issues associated with social media.
Someone in a public place checking their social media on a smartphone with likes and hearts imposed above the phone.

Nazar_ab / Getty Images

Instagram’s new update that allows users to hide their like count means well, but, ultimately, it doesn’t make a difference in your social media experience. 

I will say I was initially excited about Instagram opening the feature to all users last week, since I’m no stranger to comparison fatigue on social media. Social media has trained our brains to find validation in the number of likes we get on a post about our lives, so maybe taking away that artificial number might help ease the stress of it all. 

However, hiding the like counts on two new posts didn’t provide me with the sense of ease on my self-esteem I was hoping it would, and instead just seemed like a gimmick. 

"Instagram means well with hiding its like count, but the self-esteem issues of the platform and social media as a whole still lurk around every corner of the app."

To Like or Not to Like

Instagram is built on the foundation of user interaction and likes. The more likes you get on a post, the more your photo will show up in someone’s feed, the more possible brand partners will notice, and the more exposure you’re likely to get. 

The social network initially announced in 2019 it would begin testing the feature with certain users. The possibility of hiding likes got mixed reactions, since many attribute the number of likes to popularity or self-worth. Influencers need the likes for their brand partnerships and engagement, too.

After testing the feature on a limited number of users over the past few months, Instagram finally opened the option to everyone last week, finding a middle ground by allowing users to decide for themselves how they want to experience the platform. 

Users now can hide the likes from themselves and have the option to hide the like counts so others can't see them, as well. Instead of showing a number of likes, you just see "username and others" when people like your posts. 

I’m not a social media influencer, nor do I have thousands of followers, but I am human, so I do get a self-esteem boost with every like on a photo I post. I opted not to see the likes on two of my posts this past weekend to see how the new feature would affect the average person. 

Illustration of two smartphones, one with thumbs up and one with thumbs down displayed on the screens.

Malte Mueller / Getty Images

While you don’t physically see the number of likes that rack up on a photo, you still get a notification for each and every like, and can see who liked it in your notifications, so you can essentially keep a mental tab of how many likes you’re getting.

There's no indication of how many people interacted with your photo to the outside world, but you still know, so it really didn't make that much of a difference in the experience for me. 

Is It Worth It? 

For me, the problem with Instagram isn’t the ability to see who liked your photo. The features of seeing that someone shared your post or shared your story without any context are far more of a mental health nuisance than a like count. 

While you can only see instances of someone sharing your posts or story if you label your page as a "professional" account for analytics purposes, if you opt for that, seeing that someone shared your post without knowing who or why can drive some people crazy. 

Instagram means well with hiding its like count, but the self-esteem issues of the platform and social media, as a whole, still lurk around every corner of the app. Hiding likes won’t solve the fundamental problems many (myself included) have with social media when it comes to comparing themselves with others, the fear of missing out, and wondering what people really think about you behind that like. 

Those who want to hide your like count, go for it, but you won’t really notice a difference in your experience. 

If anything, I think if more and more people hide their like counts—especially more prominent influencers—the comparison aspect of Instagram might lessen since no one would know how "Insta popular" others are.

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