Instagram has a problem. Likes aren’t always good for business -; or for its users.
There’s a growing concern that the social media platform has negative effects on the mental health of teens and young adults. So Instagram is trying to do something about it.
Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri announced that the experimental feature is coming to some United States users in November. He called it “private likes.” People can still comment and like your photos and videos, but the likes would be for your eyes only.
The company has already been testing the feature in in seven other countries. Now they’re ready to see how U.S. users respond. It’s all part of an effort to make Instagram feel safer, less toxic, and less competitive.
“It’s about young people,” Mosseri said on stage at the WIRED25 conference when he announced the private likes test. “The idea is to depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love, things that inspire them.”
It’s not being rolled out to all users because Mosseri says Instagram needs to see if this changes how people use the platform and how it affects creators.
Influencers aren’t happy to hear about the likes being hidden. They’re worried this could impact the engagement on their posts and eat into their ability to make fame and fortune off of Instagram. Likes are a valuable metric that influencers can leverage when working with brands. But if no one can see those likes, will that even matter?
Mosseri says this is why private likes are just an experimental feature for now. But he also said influencers are not their main audience. People come to Instagram first and foremost to connect with their close friends.
“We’re always going to put the people first,” he said. “That’s one of our core values at Instagram. After that, we’re going to put creators first, because that’s what makes Instagram special.”
“The heart of Instagram is expression, and people come to Instagram to really connect to Instagram to connect with their close friends, but they usually stay to be inspired by the world around them.”