As Instagram embarks on an experiment where video view counts and the number of likes a post garners are no longer visible to followers, some are left to question what truly prompted the move.

“Facebook and Instagram have been making a lot of changes in 2018 and 19,” explained Karen Richards, a senior social networking strategist at Mount Royal University. “They claim it’s around privacy, trying to make the accounts more private for its users. I’m a little skeptical. I think it’s probably to keep them relevant, keep them in the media, using that social experiment angle as a (way) of keeping them top of our minds.”

Instagram officials state the move to conceal likes and views from followers is to place less emphasis on likes while encouraging people to connection more with the people they care about. Instagram users will still be privy to the number of likes their posts receive.

Richards say she doesn’t expect the platform’s alteration to affect most users, change many lives or make a huge social statement. “I think to do that they would have hidden the number of followers or likes from the person themselves. If you have an Instagram account, with this experiment you will still be able to see how many likes you get. I think people – individuals, companies, businesses – will still be motivated by that, I don’t think it’s going to change the social fabric.”

“It’s going to affect, I think, more businesses and social media influencers who use Instagram particularly to market themselves. They rely on the number of likes they get and being able to promote the number of likes per post so that they can charge more money for it.”

A large number of likes on a post may entice some followers to add a like of their own and Instagram’s change would likely inhibit such a mob mentality.

Richards says she awaits the next step in the ongoing efforts of influencers to circumvent social media restrictions. “Marketers always find a way around though, so I’ll be curious to see what some of these influencers, what they will do to get around it.”

In a statement, an Instagram spokesperson attempted to reassure users who may be alarmed by the change.  “We understand that this is important for many creators and, while this test is in its exploratory stages, we are thinking through ways for you to communicate value to your brand partners.”

With files from CTV’s Kevin Green