Instagram appears to be considering removing the like count on users’ photos, in what would be a major change for the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app.
According to code found within the latest version of the Instagram app, the company is experimenting with hiding the number of likes a post gets.
The change was first noticed by social media researcher Jane Manchun Wong, who shared a screenshot of the interface on Twitter.
“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes you get,” a pop-up message on the screen reads.
“During this test, only the person who shared a post will see the total number of likes it gets.”
In a statement to The Verge, Instagram said that while it is not actively testing this feature, it is always looking for ways to “reduce pressure” on its platform.
“We’re not testing this at the moment, but exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about,” the company said.
However, it’s clearly something the social network has considered, and theoretically the feature could go live at anytime.
The news comes just days after the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), suggested that social networks that operate in Britain should turn off the “Like” button to protect children’s privacy.
In its draft code of practice, published on Monday, the data watchdog states that sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter should avoid using “nudge techniques” to keep users engaged.
These could include “Likes” or Snapchat “Streaks”, which encourage children to carry on using the service longer than they had intended, allowing more of their personal data to be collected.
“This is the connected generation. The internet and all its wonders are hardwired into their everyday lives,” said Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.
“We shouldn’t have to prevent our children from being able to use it, but we must demand that they are protected when they do.”
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