The test means that the area where public likes used to appear now shows a section that says “Liked by [Instagram user] and others”.
In regions where public likes are still being displayed, this section displays a similar message but includes the total like count. For example, a post with 1,382 likes would say “Liked by [Instagram user] and 1,381 others”.
Since the hiding of public likes has already been tested in Canada and is now being tested in a new region, it appears to have entered the later stages of testing which indicates hiding public likes could become the default for all Instagram users in the future.
Instagram is positioning this test as a way to refocus user attention on photos and videos instead of the total likes that posts receive with Instagram’s Head of Public Policy Tara Hopkins saying:
”We want Instagram to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves. This includes helping people to focus on the photos and videos they share, not how many likes they get.”
However, by removing public likes, Instagram is also removing people’s ability to see which posts are truly popular and unpopular. This makes it easier for Instagram to promote content it approves of and censor content it doesn’t want people to see.
The roll-out of this test in Ireland comes just over a week after Instagram introduced a creepy artificial intelligence (AI) which warns users that “their comment may be considered offensive” – another feature that makes it easier for the social network to push its preferred narrative on the platform.
Update – July 17, 2019: Instagram has further expanded its tests of hiding public likes to Australia, Brazil, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand.