In a new development announced Wednesday, Facebook and Instagram users will now be able to choose to hide their like counts on the platforms.
Facebook announced the update in a blog post, saying that “everyone on Instagram and Facebook will now have the option to hide their public like counts, so they can decide what works for them.”
The platform tested out the method of “hiding like counts to see if it might depressurize people’s experience on Instagram.” The company said that it found while some liked not seeing the like counts, other people found it to be annoying, “particularly because people use like counts to get a sense of what’s trending or popular.”
The company further explained the process of hiding how many people have liked a specific photo or post. Users will have the option to hide like counts on other people’s posts “by visiting the new Posts section in Settings.” This control then applies to every post in someone’s feed.
The company added, “You can also choose to hide like counts before sharing a post. You can turn this setting on or off, even after it goes live. People want more flexibility, so we thought it would be important to give people the option. In the next few weeks you will see both of these controls come to Facebook.”
Some users who previously had the option to test hiding likes on Instagram told CNN Business the option could help improve wellbeing on the platform. However, for social media influencers who have built businesses on the app, demonstrating their own like counts — and comparing them with those of other users’ posts — can be important for securing lucrative brand partnerships.
In its announcement, Facebook also said that it is “funding more external research about people’s experiences on Instagram, and how we can improve our policies and products to support our community.” The company is requesting proposals for research from non-profit organizations, as well as global academics at this time.
Amid reports that the company is planning to create a version of Instagram for young children under the age of 13, many pushed back against the move due to concerns over privacy and the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of young children.
Earlier this month, a group of attorneys general from all over the country wrote a letter to Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to scrap the plans.
They wrote, “Use of social media can be detrimental to the health and well-being of children, who are not equipped to navigate the challenges of having a social media account. Further, Facebook has historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its platforms. The attorneys general have an interest in protecting our youngest citizens, and Facebook’s plans to create a platform where kids under the age of 13 are encouraged to share content online is contrary to that interest.”
The letter concluded with a plea to abandon the development of the new site, stating, “It appears that Facebook is not responding to a need, but instead creating one, as this platform appeals primarily to children who otherwise do not or would not have an Instagram account. In short, an Instagram platform for young children is harmful for myriad reasons. The attorneys general urge Facebook to abandon its plans to launch this new platform.”
A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business, “As every parent knows, kids are already online. We want to improve this situation by delivering experiences that give parents visibility and control over what their kids are doing.”
The spokesperson added, “We are developing these experiences in consultation with experts in child development, child safety and mental health, and privacy advocates. We also look forward to working with legislators and regulators, including the nation’s attorneys general. In addition, we commit today to not showing ads in any Instagram experience we develop for people under the age of 13.”
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