Instagram has accidentally removed “likes” from vast numbers of accounts as part of a test that went wrong.
The company said that it had been “testing a new experience to hide likes on Feed posts” when the update rolled out more widely than expected.
Late on Tuesday, users started to report that they could not see the number of likes on people’s posts. Instead, they would see the names of a person or people who had liked it, and the message that “others” had done so, but not how many of those others there were.
“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 Instagram communications team said in a tweet.
“So Instagram ...did not mean to hide likes for everyone,” the official account said in another post, alongside an awkward emoji.
The company later confirmed that the issue had been fixed and the likes should be restored. Users might have to refresh their app by pulling down on the feed to fix it, the company advised.
Instagram has been testing the possibility of removing likes since 2019. That came amid worries that the metric was causing unhappiness among its users, who might feel upset or frustrated that they don’t receive as much engagement as they hoped for.
It said that people in the test would not be able to see the number of likes other posts had received, but would still be able to see how many likes their own posts had gone. Users would also be able to see a full list of everyone who had liked the post, but not the total number of people who had done so.
The feature has never rolled out more broadly in the years since, and Instagram has never given a timetable of when it might arrive, or even any indication that it could become a mainstream feature.
But the company is evidently still testing the feature, and adding more people to it as time goes on.