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Instagram To Start Hiding "Likes" For Some U.S. Users This Week

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said last Friday that the photo sharing app will start hiding likes for some US users this week.

"The idea is to try to depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition," said Mosseri, who made the announcement at the Wired25 conference in San Francisco. He didn't say how many U.S. users will be part of the experiment.

Instagram started testing hiding likes in Canada during the spring before expanding the experiment in July to Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. Instagram users will still be able to see the number of likes and video views their posts have gotten but the public won't be able to see these totals. 

The expansion of the experiment to the U.S. signals that Instagram has been seeing promising results from hiding likes. Studies have linked social media use to an increase in depression and anxiety and now tech companies are thinking about rolling back features that could harm a person's mental health.

Instagram users who were part of the experiment in countries such as Canada and Australia said in August that they thought the move could help improve their mental health because they often compare their like counts to those of other users. There were concerns though that hiding likes could lead to a drop in the number of people who comment or engage with a post. 

"We will make decisions that hurt the business if they're good for people's well-being and health, because it has to be good for the business over the long run," Mosseri said.

He said that Instagram doesn't know if hiding likes will improve a user's well being, especially for teens, but the company wants to reduce anxiety and social comparison. He added that Instagram doesn't have any scientific proof that hiding likes will improve mental health.

Actress Tracee Ellis Ross, who joined Mosseri on stage, said she thought hiding likes was a "great idea." As much as she enjoys getting a lot of likes on an Instagram post she doesn't think it's "helpful for well-being" or helps fuel creativity. Ross has more than 7 million followers on Instagram. 

"It becomes about how you're seen and how you're taken in," she said. 

Other social networks have been thinking about ways to improve well being. Facebook has also been experimenting with hiding likes. Twitter is exploring whether to put likes and retweets behind a user tap so conversations are easier to follow. 


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