The tiny red hearts that appear under Instagram photos of kids, kittens and sandwiches can be a source of stress for many users, an insidious way of measuring self worth and popularity.
Beginning Wednesday, Instagram users will be able to hide the numbers that show how many people liked their posts and photos. Users will also be able to hide the number of "likes" on other users' posts.
The feature will be available on Facebook in the coming weeks. Comments will still be available for people who chose to hide likes — they just won’t see whether it was 2, 20 or 20,000 people who liked their posts.
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Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, started to test hiding the "like" count in 2019, "to see if it might depressurize people's experience" on the platform, the company said in a blog post.
"What we heard from people and experts was that not seeing like counts was beneficial for some, and annoying to others, particularly because people use like counts to get a sense for what's trending or popular, so we're giving you the choice," Instagram added.
Experts have long criticized such counts, saying it hurts mental health and makes people feel bad when comparing themselves to others. Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, tweeted that the update will hopefully allow people to worry less about how many likes they or other people are getting.
"We want you to feel good about the time you spend on our apps and this is a way to give you more control over your experience," Mosseri added.
How to Hide Likes on Your Instagram and Facebook Posts
To hide like counts on your Instagram posts, select the three dots in the upper right corner above a post, then click "Hide Like Count." This setting can be turned on or off anytime. This same option will be rolling out on Facebook in the next few weeks, the company said.
How to Hide Likes for All Content on Your Instagram Feed
To hide like counts on other people's posts, go to the new "Posts" section in "Settings." Then, toggle the "Hide Like and View Counts" switch to on. This control applies to all the posts in your feed.