What Happened To Instagram Likes? The Accidental Update Explained

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Instagram likes

Many Instagram users got an unexpected surprise this past week when they refreshed their feeds only to see all of their "likes" disappear in the blink of an eye.

Several unimpressed Instagrammers took to social media to complain about the unwanted update that came without warning.

Did Instagram remove likes?

Fortunately for those who thrive on tracking engagement on their Insra posts, a spokesperson for the Facebook-owned app has since explained the "update" that caused likes to be removed was a complete accident.

Instagram has been testing the removal of likes for years, but the test wasn’t available to everyone — at least, not until the slip-up that occurred on March 2 allowed some users an accidental sneak peek.

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"We unintentionally added more people to the test today, which was a bug — we're fixing this issue and restoring like counts to those people as soon as possible" the spokesperson said.

Instagram quickly scrambled to fix this error, but not before many users noticed the change. And, as is typical when apps receive drastic updates apps, people were not too happy about it!

Meme accounts were particularly quick to make their feelings about the update known.

But while normality has been restored, for now, we may need to get used to the idea that Instagram likes will likely be disappearing permanently soon.

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Why is Instagram removing likes?

For the past few years, Instagram has been removing likes in certain locations around the world in an effort to test how the app performs without them.

This is supposed to be part of the company's commitment to prioritizing the mental health of its users over the functions of the social media app.

Social media is known to take its toll on body image and self-worth, and the removal of likes is an attempt to reverse that.

Instagram has already been operating without visible likes in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand since 2019.

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri has said that the goal for this update is "about creating a less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves."

He also stated that though people may not like the update, the company had decided it is a positive step forward, saying, "We will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people's well-being and health.”

But some have accused the company of making this change as a way to hide deteriorating engagement across the board on the app. These people believe the powers that be at Instagram are attempting to protect the app's reputation as newer social media platforms pose tough competition.

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What will Instagram look like when likes are taken away for real?

Whatever Instagram’s motives might be, if the app does remove likes, users can expect to see a pretty noticeable difference.

Here is what an Instagram post looks like for users in Australia, where likes have already been hidden.

Photo courtesy of the author

Where the app used to list the number of likes, you'll instead just see “and others.”

Likes aren’t completely a thing of the past in even the test countries, however. Users can still see how their own posts performed, just not how many likes other people got on theirs.

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment.