It’s widely agreed upon that social media is both a boon and a bane — at once, an uplifting space where we get to connect with loved ones, even strangers from all around the world; and yet, a dark and toxic environment that leaves us crippled with FOMO, unrealistic expectations, and an obsession with approval, by way of the perfunctory double-tap.
That might now change. From today, you can hide like counts on all posts in your feed, for both Facebook and Instagram — the “like-free” option will be rolling out on all accounts in the next few weeks. This is good news for those who’ve been waiting to hear what the company will be doing since conducting earlier tests on the platforms, since 2019.
You will also have the option to hide like counts on your own posts, so others can’t see how many likes your posts get. On top of that, you can choose to hide like counts before sharing a post. For full flexibility, this setting can be turned on or off, even after the post goes live.
Giving users a choice here is key to the company’s strategy. “We tested hiding like counts to see if it might depressurise people’s experience on Instagram. What we heard from people and experts was that not seeing like counts was beneficial for some, and annoying to others, particularly because people use like counts to get a sense for what’s trending or popular, so we’re giving you the choice,” Facebook said in a press statement.
This latest update is aimed at making Instagram and Facebook a more wholesome and less stressful environment, particularly at a time when the social media giants have been linked to low self-esteem, narcissism, and anxiety. The general trend is that users often treat post likes as a popularity contest or a major source of validation, which is especially trying for younger users, who might face anxiety or embarrassment if their posts don’t receive enough ‘likes’ by their peers. Without the like count, the hope is that people can focus on the photos and videos being shared, instead of the amount of likes a post gets.
Announced 26 May 2021, the new feature on Facebook and Instagram will be rolled out on all accounts in the next few weeks.