The end may be near for Instagram’s most loved (and despised) feature: Likes.
Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri announced at a tech conference Friday that the company would start hiding the public like counter for posts within the app for some U.S. users as part of a test that will start as early as next week.
Instagram users who are part of the test will be able to see who liked their posts from the back-end of the app, but the user’s audiences won’t.
“The idea is to depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, give people more space to focus on connecting with people they love, things that inspire them,” Mosseri said. “But it’s really focused on young people.”
After his talk at the tech conference, which was hosted by Wired, Mosseri told Bloomberg that Instagram was also trying to alleviate mental health pressure that the app has created.
“The idea is to try and reduce anxiety and social comparisons, specifically with an eye towards young people,” Mosseri told the business news site.
Instagram first rolled out similar tests earlier this year in Canada, Brazil, Japan and Australia.
In the 10 years since the app made its debut on mobile phones, Instagram, like other social media platforms, has become a daily part of modern life.
Many people use the app to share intimate moments of everyday life with their friends and family, while many others ― including musicians, artists, celebrities, aspiring influencers and big brands ― use the app to build or boost their clout.
But the modern-day obsession with social media has taken its toll on mental health. The American Psychological Association attributed a recent rise in depression, psychological distress and suicidal thoughts among people 26 and younger to an increase in time spent on social media, according to a report published by the association in May.
One 22-year-old user, Sarah Roberts, who was part of Instagram’s like-count test in Canada, told HuffPost earlier this year that she found the app felt more personal without seeing “likes” on others’ posts.
“Personally, I love not seeing the like count,” she told HuffPost. “It feels a bit weird to say, but I’ve stopped comparing myself to bigger accounts. I’ve also been more personal with the things I actually like versus what everyone else is liking. This feels like more of what Instagram should be rather than an advertisement of ourselves on our page.”
Devorah Heitner, tech researcher and author of “Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World,” said that like-less Instagram posts may have a positive effect on children’s mental health, too.
“Kids can get very hung up on the numbers with both likes and followers,” she previously told HuffPost. “But if Instagram’s test shows kids they can laugh at themselves and have some perspective on their own hunger for status and approval (which are deeply human), that’s a positive strategy that I would encourage.”