Likes have been the backbone of Instagram's algorithm since its launch in 2010. So why are they planning to hide them from users?
If you haven't already heard, earlier this week, Instagram said they will hide the amount of likes on posts. They have already trialed this in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, Brazil and Japan. 

What exactly does this mean?
Users will still be able to like posts and leave comments. The only change is that they won't be able to see how many likes it has or if any of the people you follow have liked it. This is a follow up to the update in early October which saw the removal of the activity tab, where you can who you're friends follow and posts they like. The director of policy for Facebook in Australia and New Zealand, Mia Garlick says that hiding likes would “remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love.” This is likely due to a growing number of young people developing mental health problems over the amount of likes their posts get, however after the change the person who makes the post will be the only person who is able to see who liked it, which still allows people to obsess over likes. 
Overall the update won't affect casual users as likes will still determine the targeted adverts you see and what is shown on the discover tab.

But what about influencers?
Influencers are people who are paid by companies to endorse brands on Instagram. Likes are very important for influencers as brands can see how many likes they get and decide if they want to sponsor them depending on their popularity. Without likes, they could recieve less brand deals. Influencers in the areas of the trial have seen a 50% decrease in growth of followers and earnings. Canadian influencer, Kate Weiland says "Likes are a motivation factor, now there's no audience applause at the end of a performance. It's kind of like crickets in the background."