Imagine an Instagram where no one can see how many followers or likes you have. Now imagine being an influencer who suddenly has those metrics—the exact numbers you use to cement your influencer status—hidden to the public. Fast Company reported earlier today that, unfortunately for the Olivia Jades of the world, Instagram is indeed experimenting with hiding likes. Researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered the development and shared a screenshot on Twitter. Instagram confirmed to TechCrunch that the design is an internal prototype not visible to the public yet.
“Instagram is testing hiding like count from audiences, as stated in the app: ‘We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get,'” Wong wrote under her shots of how it’d look. Obviously responses on Twitter were mixed. Some people loved it because it would take the pressure off of curating feeds for likes, and other people were worried about how it would affect the business of influencers.
In the screenshot, the number of likes a post gets would only be visible to the user who posted it. Everyone else will just see one username of someone who liked the post accompanied by “and others.”
An Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch that “we’re not testing this at the moment, but exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about.” The feature would likely be Instagram’s way of addressing how validation culture (seeking a certain number of likes for posts or certain number of followers along with comparing your curated feed to other people’s perfectly curated feeds) has been shown to hurt mental health and self-esteem.
So, how would keeping likes private really wreck an Instagram influencer’s career? By hiding their engagement on posts, influencers could find it harder to get deals with businesses for sponsored content. Those companies like to see engagement on content before tapping an influencer to rep their product. It would also make it near impossible for users to figure out which posts are popular on the platform, and therefore, influential.
This story first appeared on ELLE.