Instagram will be selecting UK users at random to be part of the global trial, which it says is to help determine if removing likes will lessen the pressure on users.
Instagram tweeted: “Starting today, we’re expanding our test of private like counts globally. If you’re in the test, you’ll no longer see the total number of likes and views on photos and videos posted to Feed unless they’re your own.
“While the feedback from early testing in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand has been positive, this is a fundamental change to Instagram, and so we’re continuing our test to learn more from our global community.”
“In addition, we understand that like counts are important for many creators, and we are actively thinking through ways for creators to communicate value to their partners.”
Although some influencers and celebrities have expressed dislike for the move – Nicki Minaj has vowed to quit the platform if her likes were removed – Instagram claims to have had positive feedback on the trial so far.
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Tara Hopkins, Instagram’s EMEA head of public policy, said: “While the feedback from early testing has been positive, this is a fundamental change to Instagram, and so we’re continuing our test to learn more from our global community.”
The move comes amid growing concerns over the impact of social media on mental health. In particular, likes were found to be one of the platform’s most toxic features, according to a poll carried out for the Royal Society For Public Health (RSPH).
Recent studies have also found a correlation between social media use and increased mental health difficulties.
Rhiannon Lambert, a nutritionist on London’s Harley Street, told Sky News: “Instagram is dangerous when it comes to food, so dangerous. For somebody that’s suffering from any type of mental health illness, especially orthorexia, with the variety of influencers claiming that what they eat can heal something or solve something, that’s not necessarily true and it can cause a condition to get even worse.”
The trial follows the company’s decision to make a number of changes to its service in an effort to improve the users’ online experience. Instagram has cracked down on content promoting or glamorising self-harm, eating disorders and suicide, and has even prohibited drawings of such material being proliferated on the platform.
In addition, the company has removed its ‘following’ feature, which was described by critics as stalkerish, while adding a new ‘restrict’ feature that enables users to silently block online bullies.