The Morning Scroll: Instagram Expands Test to Hide 'Likes' & Michelle Obama Speaks Out After ‘Send Her Back’ Chants

Morning! While you were sleeping (or staying up to binge-watch Friends for the tenth time, or pulling an all-nighter in the library), a few things went down that you’ll probably want to know about. So grab a cup of coffee, settle in, and get scrolling.

What in the World

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has shut down President Donald Trump’s attempt to secure rapper A$AP Rocky’s release from jail, warning Saturday that the rapper would not receive any special treatment. 

Trump tweeted Saturday morning that the had a “very good call” with Löfven, adding that the prime minister assured him that “American citizen A$AP Rocky will be treated fairly.”

“Likewise, I assured him that A$AP was not a flight risk and offered to personally vouch for his bail, or an alternative,” the president tweeted.

However, a statement from the prime minister’s office appeared to contradict Trump’s remarks, HuffPost reports. 

“The Prime Minister made sure to point out that the Swedish judicial system, prosecutors and courts, are completely independent,” the spokesperson said. “He also pointed out that everyone is equal before the law and that the government neither can nor will try to influence the judicial process.”

The rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, was in Sweden for the European leg of his tour with his hip-hop group, A$AP Mob, and has been in pre-trial detention since July 2, following a June 30 street fight in Stockholm, ABC News reports. The two other performers Mayer’s was with, Bladimir Corniel and David Rispers, were also detained. 

Löfven said Saturday that he was aware Trump “has a personal interest in the case,” but that it was not appropriate for the Swedish head of state to intervene, the Associated Press reports. 

Lawmakers and celebrities in the U.S. have called for the rapper to be released

According to a press release posted to the website of the Stockholm prosecutor’s office, the rapper is “suspected of aggravated assault.” The rapper’s attorney told ABC News that he and his fellow performers were acting in self-defense. 

“This is unjust because he is incarcerated because the prosecutor is applying the rule of ‘flight risk,’” Sloban Jovicic, A$AP Rocky’s Swedish attorney, told ABC News in a phone interview on Friday. “There is no risk for flight risk or escape because A$AP would never jeopardize his career, brand, support from his fans, friends and celebrities all over the world.” 

“You have to also see this from his point of view, he came to Sweden to perform for his fans and he was attacked, followed and harassed,” Jovicic said. “My client begged and pleaded with these attackers to stop and he acted in self defense. And now he is the one in jail. That’s unjust.”

Rumor Has It

Instagram is expanding a test to hide how many “likes” a user’s post receives in order to combat criticism that such counts affect a person’s mental health, particularly when comparing themselves to others. 

According to CNN Business, Instagram, a Facebook-owned company, has been implementing the test in Canada since May, but is now expanding it to Ireland, Italy, Japan, Australia, Brazil and New Zealand. 

Image via Instagram

Facebook usually tests new Facebook and Instagram features in smaller markets first before bringing it to the United States, if it ultimately decides to, the Associated Press reports. 

Likes, which appears as hearts on Instagram, are often used as a measurement of popularity, and, for some users, not getting enough likes can impact their self esteem. 

“We are testing this because we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get,” an Instagram spokesperson said.

The test removes the number of likes on a photo or video, but the owner of the account will still be able to see them. Users, then, will not be able to see the number of likes other users’ posts receive. Rather, the user will have to tap the list of all the accounts that liked the photo and would have to count the total manually, which users likely won’t do. 

Experts told CNN Business, however, that hiding likes is not a cure-all solution. The test doesn’t fix, nor address, other issues that impact the wellbeing of users on Instagram, including bullying or people thinking that others’ lives are better than theirs. 

Instagram has made some recent moves to address bullying on the social media platform. The company announced a new tool earlier this month that uses artificial intelligence to tell users when a comment could be considered offensive. 

The social media platform is also adding a “Restrict” mode to combat bullying. When a person restricts another user, that user’s comments will only be visible to them, not other people, and restricted users won’t be able to see if that person is active on Instagram or if they’ve read any direct messages. 

Then This Happened

In a tweet Friday evening, former First Lady Michelle Obama praised the country’s diversity after President Donald Trump launched an attack on Twitter against four Democratic congresswomen of color. 

“What truly makes our country great is its diversity,” Obama tweeted. “I’ve seen that beauty in so many ways over the years. Whether we are born here or seek refuge here, there’s a place for us all. We must remember it’s not my America or your America. It’s our America.”

The tweet appears to be in reference to Trump’s recent attacks on Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. In a series of tweets, Trump had said the women should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

All four congresswomen are U.S. citizens, and three of them were born here, HuffPost reports. Omar’s family were refugees who came to America from Somalia when she was a child. 

Trump continued lashing out at the congresswomen Wednesday during a rally in Greenville, North Carolina. He targeted Omar, who along with Tlaib are the first Muslim women in Congress. Just moments after, the crowd began to chant, “Send her back.” 

On Thursday, however, the president began to distance himself from the chant. 

“It started up rather fast,” Trump told reporters Thursday. “I disagree with it, but, again, I didn’t say that. They did.”

Although, on Friday, the president referred to the crowd as “incredible patriots.”

When asked Friday afternoon as he left for New Jersey for the weekend if he thought the chant was “racist,” Trump said, “No.”

“You know what’s racist to me? When someone goes out and says the horrible things about our country, the people of our country, that are anti-Semitic, that hate everybody, that speak with scorn and hate, that to me is really a dangerous thing,” Trump said, appearing to reference to Omar or Tlaib.

Omar apologized earlier this year after claiming in a tweet that Republican politicians do not criticize Israel due to them taking money from pro-Israel organizations, saying, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.”

According to ABC News, Tlaib, who is a Palestinian-American, has drawn criticism from conservatives for criticism of Israel over its treatment of Palestine.

Happy Thoughts

Today is National Hammock Day! Make today a great day to relax and recharge!

Image via Giphy