Instagram is testing a feature that would let users decide if they want to hide likes on their own posts or posts from people they follow.

The option will start with a small global test group on Wednesday. Instagrammers can also decide to keep the original experience, which includes visible likes.

Instagram began testing the option to hide likes on posts in 2019, first in Canada and later around the world. While followers couldn't see the total number of likes a post received, the owner of the account still could, Instagram said at the time. Viewers of the post the could click to see a full list of the accounts who liked it, but they wouldn't see a number totaling the likes.

The test was done "to understand if it lessens some pressure" for users when they post to the platform, said a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram. Some people found the feature to be beneficial, but others still wanted to see like counts so they could track what was popular, the spokesperson said.

Likes, which appear as hearts on Instagram, have been a key metric to create engagement on the platform. But they have also caused some users to tie self-esteem to how many they rack up.

In March, Instagram briefly hid likes from some of its users after the company accidentally expanded its long-running test of the feature. As a result of the accident, several Instagram users reported seeing the change on their profiles, with the number of likes replaced with the phrase "[example username] and others" next to a heart.

The experiment with the new feature will take place only on Instagram initially, but the company is also exploring a similar experience for Facebook, the spokesperson said.

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