Facebook on Friday began hiding the number of “likes” for posts in Australia as part of a trial run designed to ease social pressure associated with the value people place on being “liked.”
The new approach by Facebook comes as social media giants face increasing pressure to curb feelings of anxiety and depression amongst some users on their platforms.
“We are running a limited test where like, reaction and video view counts are made private across Facebook. We will gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people’s experiences,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Mia Garlick, director of policy for Facebook Australia, told the Australian Associated Press that removing likes should remove negative comparisons between users.
“We’ve had really positive feedback from a lot of the anti-bullying groups and mental health organizations that we work with.”
“It really is just taking that number out of the equation, so that people can focus on the quality of their interactions and the quality of the content rather than on the number of likes or reactions.”
Facebook said earlier this month that it was considering hiding like counts after mobile app researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered the hidden feature buried deep in the company’s Android app.
According to Wong’s findings, people will be able to tap to see the full list of people who liked and reacted to a post, however, the like count will no longer be shown on the News Feed. This means that users won’t be able to see how many people have liked a post but they will still be able to count for themselves if they expand the likes tab.
Facebook is working to hide like counts, too!https://t.co/WnUrM12aZg
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) September 2, 2019
If the test goes well, Facebook will reportedly roll out the feature to more countries in the future. Earlier this year, Instagram began testing hiding like counts, subsequently expanding the test to more regions when users reported that they actually liked the hidden counts.
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