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article imageInstagram runs Canadian experiment where 'likes' become private

By Tim Sandle     May 3, 2019 in Technology
Instagram is running a pilot version of its platform in Canada that is more heavily focused on images and less on 'like' counts, in relation to photographs posted by private users. This is an attempt to shift the ethos towards a more private network.
In keeping with comments made by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Instagram is experimenting with a test in Canada which will move the "like" counts on posts from public to private for selected users. This forms part of an experiment, across Facebook, designed to encourage users of the social media site to focus on the actual photographic and video content, rather than the pursuit of gaining 'like' or valuing the worth of an image solely based on the number of likes the image has attracted.
Speaking at April 2019's Facebook’s F8 developer conference, Mark Zuckerberg uttered the phrase "the future is private". Facebook, which owns Instagram, intends to shift the company in a new direction, towards building private networks rather than public ones. The move is also part of the company's reaction to scandals like the Cambridge Analytica fiasco and an attempt to rebuild trust and to attract new users from the younger generation.
READ MORE: A shift in Facebook's ethos? The 'future is now private'
The new experiment in Canada is built on this new privacy-focused approach. Some Canadian users of Instagram will have the number of likes and video views they would normally receive for their content removed from their Instagram feeds, plus their permalink pages and profiles. The user will still be able to see the interactions in the form of 'likes' but everyone else will not be able to see this data.
According to a spokesperson from Facebook, the objective behind this is because: "We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get," said a notice that Instagram released to demonstrate what users will see if they are part of the test."
Another reason behind the move may be due to the association between the impact of 'like' counts on mental health. Research reported in The Guardian showed that Instagram can have a negative impact on young people’s mental wellbeing. This is because of some types of posts deepening some young people’s feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.
More about Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, instagram, Social media
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