Users panic after Instagram mistakenly hides ‘Likes’ counts for users, app issues apology

Tuesday many Instagram devotees were shocked to discover their 'likes' count had disappeared from their accounts

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What would social media be like if you couldn’t gauge people’s popularity based on their “likes” anymore? Well, apparently this week many Instagram users got a glimpse into that reality and the response was so bad the social media app had to issue an apology – and an explanation.

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Tuesday, droves of confused – and at times distraught – Instagram users took to their accounts to complain about no longer being able to see the number of likes their posts had received. Back in 2019, the app first announced that it would be testing “private likes.”

Instagram users were upset when it appeared the ‘Likes’ button was removed. (Adobe Stock)

“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,” read the Nov. 14 announcement that year.

“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,” they clarified after getting pushback from users.

“We are testing this because we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get,” an Instagram spokesperson previously told Techcrunch. “[…] We understand that this is important for many creators, and while this test is in exploratory stages, we are thinking through ways for them to communicate value to their brand partners.”

“The idea is to try 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,” Instagram head Adam Mosseri explained to an audience in 2019 about the company’s motivation to eventually hide likes from the public. “But it’s really focused on young people. We have to see how it affects how people feel about the platform, how it affects how they use the platform…”

Instagram hasn’t shared many updates about the test run over the past year, so when the “Likes” disappeared this week, many feared it was a sign that the test run had become a permanent change to social media culture.

By Tuesday evening, the public outcry regarding the vanishing like counts was so loud Instagram’s PR team spoke up to address it in a tweet, claiming the recent disappearance was a glitch in the system and not an intentional reset.

“We’ve been testing a new experience to hide likes on Feed posts,” read the tweet. “We unintentionally added more people to the test today, which was a bug — we’re fixing this issue and restoring like counts to those people as soon as possible.”

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A few hours later they posted another update, confirming, “This issue has now been fixed. Pull down to refresh your feed and your likes should restore – thanks for your patience!”

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