Instagram head Adam Mosseri announced the experiment on Tuesday at the annual F8 developer conference held by the app’s parent company, Facebook.
“We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about,” he said, according to a video uploaded to YouTube by Time magazine.
In a blog post cited by Bloomberg, Facebook said the test would run “later this week” in Canada.
The point, the social media giant wrote, is to change how users view posts, focusing more attention on visual content rather than garnering positive reactions.
“We are testing this because we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get,” it said.
Hong Kong-based engineer Jane Manchun Wong, who describes herself on Twitter as “Uncovering unreleased features, security vulnerabilities & codes for fun,” apparently discovered the upcoming tests back in mid-April.
“Instagram is testing hiding like count from audiences,” she wrote in a tweet accompanying screenshots of the feature.
During his F8 presentation, Mosseri described these as “private ‘like’ counts.”
“You can see who liked a photo or video, you can tap through it and if you have the time you can add them all up yourself,” he explained, adding that the owner of a post can see the number of likes it received, “but only if they ask.”