Instagram expands trial of feature which hides likes and comments

Anne Freier

In App Business. July 19, 2019

Instagram has expanded a functionality that hides likes and view counts to users in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand. The popular imaging app previously launched the feature in May 2019 to address worries that attention on collecting likes could be causing health issues.

The company has come under pressure that it is not taking enough steps to ensure mental health issues are being addressed.

Advocates hope that a reduced focus on achieving ‘Internet stardom’ could hel the company to combat negative effects on mental wellbeing.

As part of the test, people will be continue to be able to see photos and videos in their feeds, but can no longer view likes and counts associated with the content.

According to research published by RSPH and the Young Health Movement (YHM), Instagram and Snapchat ranked worst for young people’s mental health. 71% of young users would recommend introducing heavy usage warnings and 80% would like for social media platforms to identify users suffering from mental health issues.

Another 68% would prefer to see if photos have been manipulated.

“Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol, and is now so entrenched in the lives of young people that it is no longer possible to ignore it when talking about young people’s mental health issues,” said Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive, RSPH.”As the evidence grows that there may be potential harms from heavy use of social media, and as we upgrade the status of mental health within society, it is important that we have checks and balances in place to make social media less of a wild west when it comes to young people’s mental health and wellbeing.”

Parent Facebook previously launched tools which allow users to manage their social media time.

Additionally, Instagram is set to launch ‘Restrict’ mode that allows users to filter out comments from others.