Instagram has been testing out a change that hides the "likes" counter on posts around the world for months, but not in the US. According to Instagram head Adam Mosseri, that's about to change. During an interview at the Wired 25 event today Mosseri explained that it will start testing the change in the US next week, "not the whole US at once," but enough that some of you will have it on your profiles.
With the test enabled, people still see the number of likes on their own posts, but not other people. He said the purpose is to "depressurize" Instagram, and they're looking to see how it impacts the feelings of users, as well as how they continue to interact with the platform. Instagram has previously said "We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get. You can still see your own likes by tapping on the list of people who've liked it, but your friends will not be able to see how many likes your post has received."
When and where the test is enabled, looking at someone else's profile simply shows a picture has been liked by [one name] and others. Of course, that doesn't stop people from focusing purely on follower count as a measure of comparing popularity, and you'll still see when only one person liked your vacation photo (thanks Greg, you're a real one), but maybe it's a small step in the right direction.