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Instagram admits it accidentally deleted likes from users' feeds in six countries – and it was all due to an unnoticed bug

Jenni Ryall

Instagram accidentally deleted likes on posts, the company has admitted to Business Insider Australia.

On Tuesday, Business Insider Australia confirmed a large amount of users had 'likes' removed from their feed completely. Instagram incorrectly confirmed at the time the removal of 'likes' was a part of a global test.

The company has now backtracked and said after an internal investigation they found it was actually a bug – but would not confirm how many users were affected. The company did confirm users in six countries were affected. 

In July, Instagram rolled out a test of hiding the number of 'likes' in Canada, and followed it up with a rollout in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Ireland, Italy and Japan. The test means the number of ‘likes’ is no longer published publicly and is only available to the user. The test was not meant to remove likes completely but it did remove a significant amount of likes for some users.

In a non-scientific test, Business Insider Australia confirmed the bug affected users in all test countries except Canada and affected users had likes removed on a majority of their organic posts. The bug removed likes completely from any posts that were not also liked by someone you follow.

Instagram confirmed they will roll out a fix in the coming days.

"Our test is about removing the pressure of like counts by making them private, not removing likes altogether. We found a bug where some people weren't seeing social context (e.g. 'Liked by XX and others') on some posts. We've corrected this and the fix will roll out in the coming days," an Instagram spokesperson told Business Insider Australia in a statement.