It’s difficult to quantify all of the ways in which social media has warped our perception of reality, but one of the most impactful has to be the way that all of our biggest life events are now judged with likes. Over the years, Facebook has caught flak for giving like counts such prominence, and in response, the social media giant is finally giving users the option to turn them off.
Starting today, you will now have the option to hide public like counts on every post in your feed on Facebook and Instagram. You can also choose to hide like counts on your own posts, so no one can see how many likes any of your updates or photos have received. Facebook hopes that this will let users focus on the content rather than the numbers below the post.
“We tested hiding like counts to see if it might depressurize people’s experience on Instagram,” the Instagram team explained. “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 of what’s trending or popular, so we’re giving you the choice.”
There is obviously an entire social media influencer industry revolving around likes and engagement, so those who still want to display their likes can choose to ignore this feature entirely. But for the rest of us, Facebook wants to offer flexibility, so in addition to being able to hide like counts before sharing a post, you can also toggle this feature on or off after the post goes live.
Hiding like counts on every post in the feed is available to everyone on Facebook and Instagram right now. If you want to try the feature in the Facebook mobile app, tap on the last tab at the bottom, then navigate to Settings & Privacy > Settings > News Feed Settings > Reaction Counts. From this menu, you will be given the option to hide the number of reactions on posts from others and on your posts. You can toggle either or both of these features on or off at any time.
The feature works similarly on the Instagram app. Go to your profile, click on the hamburger menu in the top-right corner of the screen, tap on Settings, and you should see a new Posts section. From this menu, you can tap on a toggle to “Hide Like and View Counts” on posts from other accounts, as well as choose who you want to allow to tag you.
Unlike many of the features that are forced upon social media users whether they like them or not, this actually allows people to declutter their feeds if, and only if, they choose to do so.