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instagram is removing the 'like' count feature in six more countries

Coming to an iPhone screen near you.

by Liam Hess
|
18 July 2019, 3:31pm

Ingrid Goes West (2017)

Back in April, when Instagram announced that it would be testing a new feature that would hide the like counts under other users posts, it was met with its fair share of controversy. Many commended the platform for addressing a function of the app that negatively impacts the mental health of its users, suggesting that their worth or attractiveness can be quantified simply by the number of likes received, and also inviting them to constantly compare themselves to other users. Others, meanwhile, were skeptical about the ability of the change to truly combat the many issues that continue to plague the platform: from harassment and cyberbullying, to the policing of womens’ bodies, to the murky world of influencer #sponcon.

While the feature was initially tested in Canada, Instagram announced today that it is rolling the option to hide your likes publicly to a further six countries: Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand. While nobody is being forced to use the feature, the possibility of posting your latest #blessed iPhone snap without the fear of public scrutiny can only be a relief for those who find the instant feedback of likes anxiety-inducing, an experience which psychologists have compared unfavourably to that of a gambler at a slot machine.

One upside to the change is that rather than feeling bound to sharing images -- heavily FaceTuned selfies, sexy swimsuit snaps, or yet another photo of what they’re having for dinner -- that are statistically more likely to receive likes, simply for the sake of receiving likes, there’s a possibility that it will encourage people to post more openly. “We want Instagram to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves,” Mia Garlick, Facebook Australia and New Zealand’s director of policy, told ITV. “We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love.”

We all know that the glossy, sanitised versions of our lives people share with the world on Instagram are unrealistic: maybe, just maybe, it’s a step in the right direction for the controversial social media platform. Just don’t forget to shed a tear for the influencers.